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THE WORLD’S BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS Est 1923 . OCTOBER 2018

gramophone.co.uk

on record
The changing way we hear
the composer’s music

PLUS

Ingrid Fliter: exploring


the darker side
of Chopin
A newly discovered
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Rachmaninov

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Marking Verbier’s first 25 years, this special 4-CD set features admired artists
such as Martha Argerich, Evgeny Kissin, Daniil Trifonov, Bryn Terfel, Yuja Wang and
Valery Gergiev in previously unreleased live recordings.

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A special eight-page section focusing on recent recordings from the US and Canada
Abel
‘Time and Distance’
talks to ...
The Benedictiona. In the Rear-View Mirror, Nowb.
The Invocationc. The Ocean of Forgivenessd. Cheryl Seltzer & Joel Sachs
Those Who Loved Medusae
Hila Plitmann sop dcJanelle DeStefano mez
abe The co-directors of New York’s
ce
Carol Rosenberger, abdTali Tadmor pf b Continuum Ensemble on their
Mark Abel org eBruce Carver perc
Delos F DE3550 (57’ • DDD • T) latest Roberto Sierra recording
How did you discover the music of
Roberto Sierra?
Mark Abel’s fourth We first got to know Roberto Sierra when
CD on Delos is rich he was working in the concert ofice at the How would you describe this music, and is
in those moments of University of Puerto Rico, where Continuum it enjoyable to play?
inspiration when a was invited to perform; he was in his early Sierra’s music has an extraordinary range,
composer first comes under the spell of thirties at the time. We asked to see some of embracing amazing compositional integrity,
poetry. His marriages of subtly charged his music and were deeply impressed by the phenomenal energy and a gorgeous
music with an eclectic modernist twist to maturity of what he showed us. Since then, melodiousness. He also never repeats himself.
emotionally provocative, introspective texts we have followed him closely, performing His fusion of Afro-Caribbean elements with
work best in Those Who Loved Medusa, set a great variety of his music. Almost all of his the lessons he learned as a former student
to Kate Gale’s haunting poem, in which music for piano four hands and two pianos of Ligeti gives his compositions real depth.
Hila Plitmann gloriously evokes Medusa was composed for us. We feel he is one of While it is virtuosic music that can be very
deep in a lover’s night: ‘Turn me into that the finest composers around. challenging to play, those challenges – always
thing you fear. Make me monster … wet, musical, never gratuitous – bring immense
ripe, swollen.’ While Delos founding Was the composer involved with this disc? rewards for performers and listeners.
director Carol Rosenberger, returning to We worked indirectly with him since he could
the recording studios for the first time in not be at the recording sessions. He had What recordings can we look forward to
recent years, infuses the involving piano heard us perform all of the pieces before we next from Continuum?
part with characteristic chaste beauty, began to record them, giving us very helpful Next up will be chamber music by the late
percussionist Bruce Carver adds whisks comments, and listened to the recording as German-American Ursula Mamlok, also on
and whips of colour to the feminist drama. it went through various stages of editing. Naxos, followed by our fourth Sierra recording,
Also notable is In the Rear-View Mirror, He has been extremely kind. largely of recent works composed for us.
Now, a nod to vintage Hollywood set to the
composer’s own poems, with Tali Tadmor
taking over at the piano and Abel adding
ambience and a unique lyrical line at the Biver works gathered here were written for the
organ. The second in the cycle, ‘The World The Cellar Door. Girl, Walking. Mirror. Fuse Ensemble to play, with the composer
Clock’, is a bittersweet, politically tinged No Matter Where. We Meet Ourselves one of the two vocalists in Mirror (2012;
paean to San Francisco before it was taken Fuse Ensemble the other is the late Colette Inez, whose
over by Silicon Valley millionaires. The Ravello F RR7993 (44’ • DDD) poem ‘Empress in the Mirror’ was the
third, ‘The Nature of Friendship’, includes inspiration for the work). Biver is also the
tips of the hat to Barbra Streisand’s old guitarist in Girl, Walking (2014), an at
Broadway hit ‘People’ and a snatch from times enchanting quartet for flute, electric
Berg’s Lulu. Gina Biver is a guitar, bass and ‘found percussion’.
Abel heads in another direction with musical force of Biver’s brand of electroacoustic music
The Ocean of Forgiveness, exploring intimate nature: electroacoustic leans stylistically more to crossover idioms
P H O T O G R A P H Y: N A N M E LV I L L E

poems of love, desolation and reconciliation composer, producer, than to the type created by, for example,
by Joanne Regenhardt in quiet, moving electric guitarist and director of the Pierre Schaeffer, Nono or Stockhausen.
ways. The opening and closing tracks are Washington DC-based Fuse Ensemble she As with these exemplars from an earlier
less memorable. Recorded at the Bridge helped found 10 years ago. Although a busy generation, Biver’s music has a strong
studios in Glendale, California, the sound is composer of multimedia works – whether element of improvisation, a co-creation
always natural and gorgeous. Laurence Vittes for film, kinetic sculptures, dance – the five with the performers from a pre-set

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 I


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Brilliant retro entertainment: John Tibbetts and Scott Purcell in Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock

template. No Matter Where (2010) and solo, Mauceri and his cast have hit their
Girl, Walking are fine examples of her stride. Ginger Costa-Jackson’s magnificent
idiom, though the combination in the Moll sets the tone for the performance
latter of electric guitar and flute gives it The first complete with the Ruth Etting-like melancholy of
the atmosphere of a 1970s film track. In recording of Marc her opening song, Christopher Burchett
the marimba solo We Meet Ourselves Blitzstein’s The Cradle contributes a rousing version of Larry the
(2015), percussionist-dedicatee Scott Dean Will Rock, restoring Foreman’s call to action and Nina Spinner,
partners himself with a ‘triggered audio’ of the composer’s original 1937 orchestrations, one of the many cast members from Opera
pre-recorded samples. The Cellar Door is a raises the inevitable questions about whether Saratoga’s Young Artist Program,
duo inspired by Jung where the live cello this iconic musical drama is an edgy, still contributes an inspiring version of Ella
and piano instrumentalists represent the relevant outcry of social outrage or merely Hammer’s song about workers named Joe.
conscious element, and the audio track a brilliant retro entertainment. Made during The recording is excellently balanced
(of a waterphone) the unconscious. live performances by Opera Saratoga in and opens up with volume to create an
On a more negative note, Biver’s music 2017, it is more the latter, lacking the exciting sound stage. The booklet includes
relies overmuch on repetition. Ostinato activist energy and aura of the famous detailed notes and libretto, the second CD
patterns drive the music forwards but too Broadway production by Orson Welles a 14-minute bonus track of Blitzstein
often merely mark time rather than truly when, because of skittish government describing the work’s provenance and first
develop; similarly, her harmonic language sensibilities, the cast had to sing from the performances. Laurence Vittes
is rather static and unadventurous. There audience while the composer played the
is plenty to enjoy, with such well-prepared score at a piano alone on the stage. R Sierra
performances, but the overall impression The musical influences that Blitzstein Kandinskya. Clarinet Sonatab. Thirty-Three
is of a short-measure disc of works which drew on include European operetta, Ways to Look at the Same Objectc
outlast their material. Guy Rickards Kurt Weill, Stravinsky and the Broadway Continuum / Cheryl Seltzer, Joel Sachs
Melody movies (without Busby Berkeley’s Naxos American Classics M 8 559849 (65’ • DDD)
P H O T O G R A P H Y: G A R Y D AV I D G O L D

Blitzstein choreography). Cradle would go on to


The Cradle Will Rock influence, first and foremost, much of
Soloists include Ginger Costa-Jackson, Leonard Bernstein’s stage work.
Keith Jameson and Christopher Burchett; The pace is initially deliberate, then picks These recordings of
Opera Saratoga Orchestra / John Mauceri up and takes off at the Mission scene. By the music by the Puerto
Bridge F b BRIDGE9511 (111’ • DDD • T) appearance of the Triple-Flank Maneuver Rican composer
Recorded live, July 2017 song, with its exuberant klezmer clarinet Roberto Sierra (b1953)

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 III


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SOUNDS OF AMERICA

Michael Koenig plays organ music by Hampson Sisler inspired by holidays and special occasions

have a complex history, dating from is often called on to play contrasting conductor, organist and composer
various points between July/August 2010 themes in different tempos simultaneously. Hampson Sisler (b1932), the present disc
(Kandinsky, three movements of the Clarinet Precisely calculated, it sounds almost is the first to feature solo organ music,
Sonata and 14 of Thirty-Three Ways to Look improvisatory in its natural verve and specifically premiere recordings of two
at the Same Object) and August 2014, when swing. Sierra likes to conclude works with a large multi-movement suites. Like many
the final missing movements were added. Latin dance movement to trigger applause, organ composers, Sisler is not averse to
The first 16 movements of Thirty-Three and Thirty-Three Ways has a whole series interweaving traditional hymns and folk
Ways were set down at yet another time of them. This vibrant cycle for piano four songs within his original works. He
(January 2013). Quite why this should have hands (2005-08) is essentially a set of manages to do this without sounding
been the case, from a group with a close quicksilver variations (some slow, most forced, partly due to the fluency and
working relationship with the composer, swift) not on a theme but on a hexachord textural discretion of his organ-writing.
goes unexplained in the booklet. which Sierra metamorphoses with The Family Days Suite’s opening
Fortunately, the location (KAS Music & seemingly inexhaustible élan. The movement, ‘Mother’s Day’, for example,
Sound, Astoria, New York) was constant performances are splendid, the sound opens with about 54 seconds’ worth of
throughout, and the discontinuities of the clear and bright. Guy Rickards gentle chromatic exploration, followed by
recording process have not impaired the a hymn tune accompanied at first by simple
finished result. The piano quartet Sisler drones in fifths. The harmony grows more
Kandinsky (2003) was the one work set ‘All Around the Year – Organ complex yet never cluttered, as chorale
down at one time, its 11 movements Music for Special Occasions’ prelude-like passages alternate with
providing expressive snapshots of Sierra’s Family Days Suite. Popular Monastics Suite contemplative contrapuntal movement.
intense and very Latin American reactions Michael Koenig org Concerning the second movement,
to specific paintings by the artist (not MSR F MS1666 (48’ • DDD) ‘Father’s Day’, Sisler’s description of a
unlike Sierra’s Turner of 2002, based on six Played on the Skinner organ of the Evangelische ‘playful and light’ style in melody and
paintings of the English pre-Impressionist). Saarkirche, Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany metre belies the music’s introspective
The four instruments play together only in chorale prelude character. The final
the finale, ‘Colorful Ensemble’. movement, ‘A Salute to Grandparents’,
The Clarinet Sonata (2005-06) – played appeals with its relative rhythmic variety,
by Moran Katz and Joel Sachs – is a real Among the MSR Impressionist-inspired harmonic ideas and
find, a very entertaining four-movement label’s releases devoted mysteriously trailing-off ending.
work that presents enormous technical to music by the Similarly, the subject of holidays inspires
challenges, especially for the pianist, who American choral Sisler’s five-movement Popular Monastics

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 V


SOUNDS OF AMERICA

Suite. I like the searching quality of the Tirso de Molina (Don Juan), who run into sophistication, as is true of everything they
first movement’s sparsely scored sections some competition when a servant reads a touch on this genial and distinctly
but I perceive no correlation between Falstaff letter penned by a foreigner named uncommon recording. Donald Rosenberg
manifestations of winter’s end as described Shakespeare.
by the composer’s annotations and what the The libretto, by Marec Béla Steffens (the ‘Mélancholie’
music actually sounds like. Sisler’s skilful composer’s son), possesses dashes of wit Bartók Two Elegies, Op 8b Sz41
combination of three themes over the and colour that are embodied in the lively Lourié Préludes fragiles, Op 1
course of the final movement holds interest instrumental contributions but not always Schumann Piano Sonata No 1, Op 11
until the coda’s stretto, where the textures in the austere vocal writing. The music, full Zhenni Li pf
turn muddy and indistinct. Because of the of Expressionist gestures, rarely smiles. Steinway & Sons F STNS30097 (65’ • DDD)
overall sameness of mood from work to Members of the Houston-based Greenbriar
work, I wouldn’t recommend hearing both Consortium, nevertheless, give their all as
suites in one sitting. It’s not clear if Michael led by David Kirk. Donald Rosenberg
Koenig’s performances were recorded in Zhenni Li’s new
consultation with or in the presence of the ‘Friends in Common Time’ Steinway release is a
composer but his excellent articulation and A Albert Fantasia Brevik Pastorale Caplet bolt from the blue. Li
assiduous registrations help to make the Rêverie et Petite valse Kayali Bagatelle Kütt holds bachelor and
best case for this repertoire. Jed Distler Flute Sonata Machajdík Senahh Timofeev master’s degrees from Juilliard, where she
Reminiscenza KW Walker Winter in the Woods worked with Seymour Lipkin and Joseph
Steffens Rebecca Jeffreys fl Alexander Timofeev pf Kalichstein. She continued postgraduate
Two Cells in Sevilla, or Don Quixote is Hungrya. Rebecca Jeffreys F 7 00261 46521-0 (55’ • DDD) studies with Peter Frankl at Yale and with
Five Songs on Hölderlin, Op 95b Stéphane Lemelin at McGill. Her beautiful
b
Sonja Bruzauskas mez bTali Morgulis pf sound is captured in full dimension
a
Members of the Greenbriar Consortium / and depth in this expertly engineered
David Kirk Flautist Rebecca recording.
Navona F NV6174 (51’ • DDD) Jeffreys and pianist Li leaves no detail of Schumann’s F sharp
Libretto and German texts available from Alexander Timofeev minor Sonata unattended. The minute
navona.com may not always be scrutiny brought to every element of the
‘Friends in Common Time’ on their new score would, in other hands, fragment and
disc, given the various time signatures the shatter the piece. Yet somehow, by dint of
eight represented composers employ. But passionate identification and sheer force of
The German the performances couldn’t be more amiable will, Li pulls it off. Her extravagant and
composer Walter and intimate, and the musicians appear to pervasive rubato, which occasionally risks
Steffens (b1934) has savour the opportunity to introduce derailing everything she sets in motion,
written in many styles unknown repertoire that should appeal to strikes nonetheless as so heartfelt and
and genres, from the intimate to the listeners beyond the flute-piano world. intrinsic to her emotional response to the
extravagant, and embraced everything from One of the composers is the Moldovan- music as to be indisputable. There are
art songs, chamber music and orchestral born Timofeev himself. His Reminiscenza moments when you wish for more than just
works to opera. Among the extensive list wears nostalgia lightly on its sleeve as the a few consecutive measures of steady pulse,
of creations he has based on paintings is instruments engage in lyrical and jaunty but then Li’s torrents of voluptuous sound
Guernica, a powerful orchestral depiction conversation. Like that piece, several others sweep away any reservation. I am
of Picasso’s masterpiece. say what they have to say in concise terms. unprepared to venture how this
On this new disc, two recent works Norwegian composer Tor Brevik’s Pastorale interpretative approach might fare when
in the vocal sphere reveal how flexible is a tender ballade and German composer applied to any other Romantic sonata, but
Steffens can be according to the dictates Peter Kütt’s Sonatina a three-movement the mercurial landscape of Schumann’s
of the respective texts. A post-Romantic score juxtaposing poetic and soaring ideas. Op 11 is able to encompass it, and Li
sensibility in Five Songs on Hölderlin (2008) The flute has a chance to take off during emerges, if not triumphant, at least
is reflected in expressive melodic lines the cadenza in Adrienne Albert’s Fantasia, thoroughly persuasive.
wedded to rich harmonies. The verses which also finds the instruments sharing Translating the titles of Bartók’s Op 8b
aren’t printed in the CD booklet but they winsome melodic material. Slovakian as either the Latinate ‘elegy’ or the Middle
can be read – only in German – on the composer Peter Machajdík weaves haunting English-derived ‘dirge’ is misleading. The
Navona Records website. Mezzo-soprano chords, figures, and textures in Senahh, original Hungarian sírato is something
Sonja Bruzauskas and pianist Tali Morgulis though the disc’s absence of booklet notes closer to ‘keening at graveside’. In any case,
shape the songs with elegant commitment. precludes any insight into the title. Bartók’s precise notation of these folk-
Steffens switches gears in Two Cells in Subtle sonorities abound in Kevin W inspired works seems the antithesis of the
Sevilla, or Don Quixote is Hungry (2016), Walker’s Winter in the Woods for alto flute fulsome Scriabinesque melange of Li’s
a one-act chamber opera in which the and prepared piano, which places the conception. Arthur Lourié’s 1910 Preludes,
imprisoned protagonists hope to be fed instruments in serene balance. The disc’s on the other hand, strike just the right note
more acceptable food by weaving exciting only potentially familiar composer is André of elusive piquancy.
tales for the love-starved female cook. The Caplet (1878-1925), whose Rêverie et Petite Li impresses as an artist of tremendous
prisoners turn out to be Miguel de valse comprises two charming movements conviction, who fascinates even as she
Cervantes (creator of Don Quixote) and that Jeffreys and Timofeev play with fine provokes. Time will tell. Patrick Rucker

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 VII


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THE WORLD’S BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS Est 1923 . AUGUST 2018

gramophone.co.uk

BERNSTEIN
A centenary celebration

THE WORLD’S LEADING CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS MAGAZINE

EXPAND YOUR INTERNATIONAL COMPOSER SOUNDS


COLLECTION ARTISTS PROFILES OF AMERICA
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The amazing variety of approaches to Bach


I
n my time as Editor there have been several wonder that his music has formed such a constant
occasions when, month after month, one thread through the history of recording? For if
composer has reliably featured in the Editor’s the music of few composers has generated such an
Choice selection, sometimes more than once. array of recordings, in the music of fewer still can
That composer is JS Bach. It could be personal bias we see reflected and chronicled the changes in both
on my part, of course, but I think it’s more than that. performance practice and recording techniques across
There are perhaps few composers whose music lends the remarkable century or so of the studio.
itself so well to so many varieties of interpretation, Bach’s music is therefore the perfect subject for the
and few who inspire performers to such profound sort of treatment DG has lavished on it in its latest
levels of music-making. bumper box-set, ‘Bach 333’ (the number of years
On the first point, it’s remarkable that so much of since his birth, in case you were wondering!). At 222
Bach’s instrumental music can work equally well on CDs, it’s apparently the biggest composer box-set
piano, strings, wind, accordion, symphony orchestra, ever, and will certainly take some beating; though with
jazz trio ... and remarkable, too, that the music is not Beethoven’s 250th anniversary lying just around the
only able to bear the transcription, but even offer up corner in 2020, there’s certainly a gauntlet there to be
unexpected and hidden depths in that new guise. On picked up …
the second, I am rarely as moved by music as I am Gould’s Goldbergs didn’t make the box-set, but few
by moments of Bach, be it the great Chaconne from classical music recordings better fulfil the definition
the Second Partita for solo violin or the profound of an album. Complete, perfectly shaped (though to
spirituality and humanity in the unfolding of the be fair, Bach had done that bit), their release, and
Passion story in one or other of Bach’s settings. subsequent playing, felt and feels like an event. That’s
Words like ‘Everest’ are regularly used about what a recording at its best should do – something
Bach’s masterpieces, a reflection of the status they everyone here felt when our newly crowned Recording
hold in the development of an artist’s life and of the Year, Berlioz’s Les Troyens, arrived. On October
career. Could a career as extraordinary as Glenn 13, the UK record industry is celebrating the inaugural
Gould’s have been more fittingly bookended than National Album Day by inviting listeners, artists, radio
by the Goldberg Variations, offering two completely stations and the public to play their favourite album
different but equally moving interpretations which at, appropriately enough, 3.33pm. It’s a genre-wide
respectively reflect the bravado and optimism of initiative, but it would be lovely to think that among
youth, and the reflectiveness and wisdom of maturity? the pop and rock filling the air and the airwaves, there
The compulsion and desire by artists to perform might also be some Berlioz – or, indeed, some Bach.
Bach’s music, and the resulting diversity: is it any martin.cullingford@markallengroup.com

THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS Gramophone, which has


‘What a pleasure ‘If, five years ‘I believe that
been serving the classical
to explore the ago, you’d told Ingrid Fliter is one
music world since 1923, is
rich variety me or any other of the greatest
first and foremost a monthly
of recorded Rued Langgaard interpreters of
review magazine, delivered
performances of nerd that we’d be Chopin today,’
today in both print and digital
this inexhaustible listening to new says JEREMY
formats. It boasts an eminent and
body of recordings of NICHOLAS , who
knowledgeable panel of experts,
staggeringly great music,’ says his symphonies from the Vienna interviewed the Argentinian pianist
which reviews the full range of
SIR NICHOLAS KENYON , author Philharmonic, I’d have said you were in Milan for our profile feature
classical music recordings.
of our Bach cover story and mad,’ says ANDREW MELLOR , this issue. ‘To have the chance,
Its reviews are completely
consultant on DG’s box-set, ‘all of author of our feature on the therefore, to meet her in person
independent. In addition to
which show the profound impact composer. ‘It was a real privilege to and talk about her new Nocturnes
of his music over the generations.’ drop in on one of the live recordings.’ disc was an absolute joy.’ reviews, its interviews and
features help readers to explore
C O V E R I L L U S T R AT I O N : B A C H - A R C H I V L E I P Z I G

THE REVIEWERS Andrew Achenbach • David Allen • Nalen Anthoni • Tim Ashley • Mike Ashman • Michelle Assay in greater depth the recordings
Richard Bratby • Edward Breen • Liam Cagney • Alexandra Coghlan • Rob Cowan (consultant reviewer) that the magazine covers, as well
Jeremy Dibble • Peter Dickinson • Jed Distler • Adrian Edwards • Richard Fairman • David Fallows as offer insight into the work of
David Fanning • Andrew Farach-Colton • Iain Fenlon • Neil Fisher • Fabrice Fitch • Jonathan Freeman-Attwood composers and performers.
Charlotte Gardner • David Gutman • Christian Hoskins • Lindsay Kemp • Philip Kennicott • Richard Lawrence It is the magazine for the classical
Andrew Mellor • Ivan Moody • Bryce Morrison • Hannah Nepil • Jeremy Nicholas • Christopher Nickol record collector, as well as
Geoffrey Norris • Richard Osborne • Stephen Plaistow • Mark Pullinger • Peter Quantrill • Guy Rickards
for the enthusiast starting a
Malcolm Riley • Marc Rochester • Patrick Rucker • Julie Anne Sadie • Edward Seckerson • Hugo Shirley
Pwyll ap Siôn • Harriet Smith • David Patrick Stearns • David Threasher • David Vickers • John Warrack voyage of discovery.
Richard Whitehouse • Arnold Whittall • Richard Wigmore • William Yeoman

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 3


CONTENTS
Volume 96 Number 1167

EDITORIAL
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email gramophone@markallengroup.com
EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Martin Cullingford
DEPUTY EDITOR Sarah Kirkup / 020 7501 6365
REVIEWS EDITOR Tim Parry / 020 7501 6367 EDITOR’S CHOICE 7
ONLINE CONTENT EDITOR James McCarthy /
020 7501 6366
The 12 most highly recommended recordings
SUB-EDITOR David Threasher / 020 7501 6370
SUB-EDITOR Marija urić Speare
reviewed in this issue
ART DIRECTOR Dinah Lone / 020 7501 6689
PICTURE EDITOR Sunita Sharma-Gibson
AUDIO EDITOR Andrew Everard RECORDING OF THE MONTH 32
EDITORIAL ADMINISTRATOR Libby McPhee
THANKS TO Charlotte Gardner, Timmy Fisher Steven Isserlis renews his partnership with
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF James Jolly
pianist Dénes Várjon in a typically imaginative FOR THE RECORD 8
ADVERTISING
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SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BACK ISSUES Chineke! Orchestra in Rachmaninov and Sibelius; Kenyon traces the history of Bach recording,
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INSTRUMENTAL 62 Nocturnes, issued by Linn this month, the
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EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Martin Cullingford
PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Paul Geoghegan VOCAL 76 LANGGAARD IN VIENNA 28
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Ben Allen
CHAIRMAN Mark Allen Carolyn Sampson sings Handel; more Machaut The Vienna Philharmonic and Sakari Oramo
from the Orlando Consort; Joyce DiDonato live have moved on from their Gramophone Award-
winning disc of symphonies by Per Nørgård to
OPERA 90 Rued Langgaard; Andrew Mellor investigates
Bo Holten’s Gesualdo Shadows; a Mayr and
Donizetti coupling; Birgit Nilsson’s live recordings MUSICIAN AND THE SCORE 50
Vladimir Jurowski talks to Sarah Kirkup
www.markallengroup.com JAZZ & WORLD MUSIC 99 about the challenges of facing up to years of
GRAMOPHONE is published by
MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, St Jude’s Church, Reviews from our sister titles Jazzwise and Songlines accumulated tradition in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake
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gramophone.co.uk
email gramophone@markallengroup.com or
subscriptions@markallengroup.com REISSUES 100 ICONS 60
ISSN 0017-310X.
DG’s epic ‘Bach 333’ box; RCA’s Emanuel Ax Rob Cowan on Polish-British violinist Ida Haendel,
The October 2018 issue of Gramophone is on sale from October
10; the November issue will be on sale from November 7
(both UK). Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy
collection; a round-up of recent LP reissues a pupil of Enescu who turns 90 later this year
of statements in this magazine but we cannot accept
responsibility for errors or omissions, or for matters arising
from clerical or printers’ errors, or an advertiser not
completing his contract. Regarding concert listings, all
information is correct at the time of going to press. Letters to
BOX-SET ROUND-UP 107 CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS 74
the editor requiring a personal reply should be accompanied
by a stamped addressed envelope. We have made every effort
Arnold Whittall surveys the eclectic music of
to secure permission to use copyright material. Where
material has been used inadvertently or we have been unable REPLAY 108 English composer Peter Dickinson
to trace the copyright owner, acknowledgement will be made
in a future issue. A Rachmaninov discovery; Nikolayeva’s Bach
UK subscription rate £64.
Printed in England by Southernprint. WHAT NEXT? 88
North American edition (ISSN 0017-310X):
Gramophone, USPS 881080, is published monthly with
an additional issue in September by MA Music Leisure
CLASSICS RECONSIDERED 110 Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra is this month’s
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John Deathridge’s new translation of Wagner’s HIGH FIDELITY 123
© MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, 2018. All rights reserved.
Ring; a compelling study of composers’ deaths
No part of the Gramophone may be reproduced, stored in a
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David Vickers immerses himself in recordings NEW RELEASES 132
The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the of Handel’s pastoral masque Acis and Galatea,
editor or Gramophone. Advertisements in the journal do not
imply endorsement of the products or services advertised. and makes a top recommendation MY MUSIC 138
British writer Sarah Perry on the importance
REVIEWS INDEX 136 of music and the consoling power of Bach

4 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


NEW RELEASES ON
WARNER CLASSICS AND ERATO

ALEXANDRE THARAUD JEAN RONDEAU JAKUB JÓZEF ORLINSKI IAN BOSTRIDGE


BEETHOVEN SCARLATTI ANIMA SACRA ANTONIO PAPPANO
Alexandre Tharaud records Jean Rondeau turns to The debut album from the rising- Marking the 100th anniversary
Beethoven’s last three sonatas, Domenico Scarlatti and some star countertenor featuring what of the end of World War I,
Nos. 30, 31 & 32, composed 20 of the often-dazzling sonatas are believed to be world premiere Ian Bostridge and Antonio
1820–22 and considered that the Neapolitan composer recordings of eight Baroque Pappano present a programme
amongst some of the most wrote during his years at the arias, notably by composers of of songs offering historical
difficult works in the repertoire. royal court in Madrid. the Neapolitan school. and poetic perspectives on this
momentous event.

THE LEEDS HELEN MERCIER SERGIU CELIBIDACHE


THE OFFICIAL ALBUM CYPRIEN KATSARIS THE MUNICH YEARS
Warner Classics and the Leeds Brahms piano works for This 49-CD box celebrates the
International Piano Competition four hands capturing the extraordinary legacy of his JOYCE DiDONATO
in a major new partnership to improvisatory character of the collaboration with the Müncher BELLINI: NORMA
bring the best of the outstanding Gypsy spirit in the Hungarian Philharmoniker portraying the
pianistic talent of ‘The Leeds’ to Dances coupled with the excitement and atmosphere of Sir David McVicar’s 2017
audiences around the world. Viennese elegance in the Waltzes. their live performances. Metropolitan Opera production of
Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma, starring
Sondra Radvanovsky, Joseph
Calleja, and Joyce DiDonato.
presents

The entire Channel Classics Records catalogue


now available to stream for the first time.

Rachel Podger, Iván Fischer, Candida Thompson, Johannette Zomer…


Hundreds of unmissable tracks and best-sellers
all included in this extensive classical catalogue.

Listen to it now on qobuz.com or our app

1 month free trial with no commitment*.


www.qobuz.com/gramophonespecial

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Martin

RECORDING OF THE MONTH


Cullingford’s From the infectious
pick of the finest
recordings from CHOPIN Cello joy that opens the
this month’s Sonata, etc
reviews SCHUBERT disc, to the more
Arpeggione Sonata reflective and intense
Steven Isserlis vc
Dénes Várjon pf works and movements,
Hyperion
HARRIET
this is music-making that
SMITH’S REVIEW just feels wonderfully
IS ON PAGE 32
instinctive and personal.

BARTÓK Violin Concerto HAYDN Cello Concertos VAUGHAN WILLIAMS


No 1 ENESCU Octet SCHOENBERG A Sea Symphony
Vilde Frang vn Radio Verklärte Nacht Sols; BBC Symphony
France Philharmonic Alisa Weilerstein vc Chorus and Orchestra /
Orchestra / Mikko Franck Trondheim Soloists Martyn Brabbins
Warner Classics Pentatone Hyperion
Vilde Frang adds to her already The inspired Alisa Weilerstein pulls off Critic Andrew Achenbach couldn’t praise
impressive discography; along with her an unusual and illuminating pairing – but more highly the intelligence and control
superb colleagues she offers a memorable then as someone who has paired Elgar and with which Martyn Brabbins approaches
Enescu Octet, and a fine Bartók coupling. Carter concertos, what do you expect? this work, caught in excellent sound.
REVIEW ON PAGE 34 REVIEW ON PAGE 40 REVIEW ON PAGE 47

PADEREWSKI JANSON The Wind KASTALSKY


Piano Works Blows – Choral Works Memory Eternal
Kevin Kenner pf Norwegian Soloists’ Choir The Clarion Choir /
Fryderyk Chopin Institute / Grete Pedersen Steven Fox
‘A piano disc … to BIS Naxos
treasure’ writes Jeremy A fascinating ‘The rehabilitation
Nicholas of this recital, one successfully presentation of the music of the of a major work’ writes Ivan Moody; this
steeped in Kevin Kenner’s long contemporary Norwegian composer is music powerfully rooted in the Russian
acquaintance with the music, and recorded Alfred Janson, given compelling advocacy sound world, sung with passion, and
on the composer’s own instrument. by the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir. beautifully recorded.
REVIEW ON PAGE 71 REVIEW ON PAGE 80 REVIEW ON PAGE 81

MONTEVERDI Vespro STRAVINSKY ‘MELANCHOLIA’


della Beata Vergine Perséphone Les Cris de Paris /
Collegium Vocale Gent / Sols; Finnish National Geoffroy Jourdain
Philippe Herreweghe Opera Orchestra / Harmonia Mundi
PHI Esa-Pekka Salonen Les Cris de Paris offer
A superb performance Pentatone a very exciting choral
of Monteverdi’s Vespers – three decades Esa-Pekka Salonen’s grasp of Stravinsky’s sound – individual voices balanced with
after Herreweghe’s first – which feels score and control of the musical forces moments of dramatic blend – as they
fresh and bursting with delightfully lends this recording a gripping sense of delve into the darkness and introspection
collaborative musicianship. drama and drive. of a 16-/17th-century programme.
REVIEW ON PAGE 83 REVIEW ON PAGE 83 REVIEW ON PAGE 86

In association with
DVD/BLU-RAY REISSUE/ARCHIVE
LEHÁR Das Land des Lächelns RACHMANINOV
Sols; Philharmonia Zurich / Fabio Luisi Symphonic Dances, etc
Accentus Sergey Rachmaninov pf www.qobuz.com
The focus is very much on the music here in Marston
Fabio Luisi’s presentation of this Lehár operetta, A major historical Listen to many of
one highly praised by reviewer Richard Bratby, who hopes this release – Rachmaninov captured the Editor’s Choice
‘genuinely moving masterpiece’ will find new friends. demonstrating his own Symphonic Dances. recordings online at
REVIEW ON PAGE 92 REVIEW ON PAGE 108 qobuz.com

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 7


FOR THE RECORD

Memorable moments from our ceremony on September 13

Top of page (clockwise): the Awards at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms;
Neeme Järvi (Lifetime Achievement); Miloš Karadaglić performs Villa-Lobos;
Kristjan Järvi conducts the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra; Lise Davidsen
(Young Artist of the Year) with Marek Zwiebel of the Pavel Haas Quartet (Chamber);
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B E N J A M I N E A L O V E G A

and Rachel Podger (Artist of the Year). Above (from left): Marianne Crebassa
(Solo Vocal); Kaspars Putniņš (Choral); Christian Girardin of Harmonia Mundi (Label
of the Year); Scott Metcalfe (Early Music); Delphine Galou (Recital); Joyce DiDonato on
the big screen (Opera & Recording of the Year). Right: Arditti Quartet (Contemporary)

In association with

8 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018


gramophone.co.uk
FOR THE RECORD

The Arvo Pärt Centre opens in Estonia


A
building
devoted to
the music
and life of Arvo Pärt
opens this month
in the composer’s The magazine is just the beginning.
home country Visit gramophone.co.uk for …
of Estonia.
The Arvo Pärt The Awards in HD and on YouTube
Centre – which The 2018 Gramophone Awards ceremony
will serve as was broadcast live by medici.tv. You can now
both archive and enjoy the broadcast in HD when you visit the
performance space – Awards section of the Gramophone website.
is set in Laulasmaa, The ceremony includes some wonderful
immersed in Archive, concert hall and exhibition space: the new Arvo Pärt Centre in Estonia live performances by the likes of Marianne
a pine forest on Crebassa, Miloš Karadaglić, Lise Davidsen,
a peninsula 35km from Tallinn. It was felt with no right angles, was designed by Rachel Podger, James Baillieu, Kristjan and
important that it would be a place to which Spanish architects Fuensanta Nieto and Neeme Järvi, and the Estonian National
people would have to make a deliberate Enrique Sobejano, inspired by the ‘silence, Symphony Orchestra. There are also
and meaningful journey, rather than beauty and geometry’ of Pärt’s music – many moving and entertaining speeches
chance upon. in particular Tabula rasa, one of his most from this year’s winners to enjoy.
Few living composers have the reach or significant works. As well as housing
resonance of Pärt, whose deeply spiritual his manuscripts, diaries, writings and
music has given rise to many acclaimed other items related to his life and work –
recordings, not least on the ECM label, material to which Pärt is adding through
with which he has had a relationship personal commentary and reflection –
dating back to 1984. The centre, which there is also a 140-seat chamber hall
is built around several courtyards and and exhibition space.

ONE TO WATCH
Calidore Quartet Jess Gillam joins James Jolly as a guest presenter
The Calidore Quartet hails
from Los Angeles (their We’ve also released some of the live
name is an amalgamation of performances as individual videos on
‘California’ and ‘doré’, French Gramophone’s YouTube page. Make sure
for ‘golden’) and is now based you subscribe to our YouTube channel for
in New York. The four exclusive new classical music performances
members studied at the and interviews.
Colborn Conservatory of
Music in Los Angeles, and Music for TV drama
they formed the Calidore Some of the finest television drama scores of
Quartet while students the last two decades are essential listening,
there in 2010. In 2016 the with or without the onscreen action. In
quartet won the inaugural a special online feature, James McCarthy
M-Prize Competition, presents a listener’s guide to recent music
an international chamber written for TV drama, from the chamber-
arts competition based at music intensity of Nico Muhly’s Howards
the University of Michigan that came disc for the label – ‘Resilience’, a thought- End and Michael Giacchino’s Lost, to the epic
with a $100,000 award, and became the first provoking programme bonded by musical orchestral canvas of Ramin Djawadi’s Game
North American ensemble to be awarded responses to human sufering – is issued this of Thrones and the reinvention of 1980s
a fellowship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. month (see our review on page 59). The deep synth-pop by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon
P H O T O G R A P H Y: T Õ N U T U N N E L

In the same year, the quartet became sense of communicative rapport these young for Stranger Things.
BBC New Generation Artists, which gave musicians exude bodes well for future
them extensive exposure on BBC Radio. projects; discussions for a second disc with Facebook & Twitter
Such a rapid rise led to a new relationship Signum are underway and we look forward Join our more than 110,000 social media
with Signum Records, and the quartet’s first to hearing whatever comes next. followers to hear about, and share your
thoughts on, our latest features and articles.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 9


FOR THE RECORD

ARTISTS & their INSTRUMENTS


Julian Bliss on his customised Leblanc Legacy B flat clarinet
I first started working with Leblanc plating, so we chose 24-carat gold
around 12 years ago. I was at a music plating which does stand out a bit! But
trade show and they had a prototype I do believe it makes a diference to
of a new professional clarinet which the sound too – it’s warmer and
I tried and instantly loved. We started darker, which is instinctively the
talking and it became clear that we sound I’m always aiming for anyway.
both had the same thoughts on student My customised Leblanc Legacy
instruments. For an advancing player, really is the whole package. I’d never
you want to have the best quality and had a clarinet in my hands like it
consistency possible even if the cost is before. It allowed me not to worry
in the lower price bracket. Through about the instrument I was playing,
ongoing discussions, we decided to which gave me a tremendous
create a new intermediate instrument freedom when I performed.
that would be easy to play, that would I remember that they sent it over to
play in tune, and that was consistent me and I played it that same night in
from one instrument to the next. a concert – I couldn’t resist! It felt so
I had no knowledge of the comfortable and familiar.
manufacturing process, so my I’m playing it in the Weber Quintet,
involvement back then was as an which appears alongside the Mozart
artist. They’d send something to me Quintet on my new Signum recording.
for feedback, or sometimes I’d go over The Weber is all about dexterity, so it’s
there to Indiana, and I’d say I’d like the wonderful to have an instrument that
sound to be ‘darker’ or ‘brighter’ or reacts this well. All the keys have the
‘warmer’ – I’d use musical terms, which same amount of spring-back and
weren’t always easy to translate into they’re all located where I want them
engineering terms. Over the years, to be. The instrument also has an
though, I’ve become more involved exceptionally even scale with each
in the engineering side, and today note having the same response,
I’m completely immersed! can afect the sound and response. The main which helps to create a fluidity of sound.
The Leblanc Bliss was released in 2009: thing was that I wanted to be able to play high Fundamentally, a clarinet is a clarinet, and I’d
word got out very quickly, and it was soon notes very quietly, and for them to speak how like to think I could pick up any brand and play
reaching teachers and players in the US and I wanted them to speak every single time. it and that an audience wouldn’t notice. But
beyond. So then I had the idea of taking Once we had adapted the design, we turned to it’s that last 10 per cent of what we do as
another clarinet, the Leblanc Legacy, and the keywork. Everyone’s hands are a diferent musicians that you can achieve with an
customising it just for me. The work we’d size and shape, so this was an opportunity for instrument like this. The funny thing is, I’ve
done on the Bliss clarinet had helped me me to put each key exactly where I wanted it. got so used to that I don’t actually think
understand what I wanted, and I was able to We took some inspiration from the German about how good it is!
implement those changes with the Legacy. system clarinets and added a few extra keys Julian Bliss’s recording of the Weber and
A lot of the changes were internal, relating to make trilling between certain notes easier. Mozart String Quintets with the Carducci
to the bore design and the tone holes – even And then there was how it looked. I decided Quartet is released on Signum on October 26,
the slightest adjustment in these two areas I wanted an alternative to the traditional silver and will be reviewed in the next issue

Dare to believe. Protect your instrument


with cover from Allianz
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10 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

GRAMOPHONE GUIDE TO …

Fantasia
Richard Bratby explores the form’s varied
expressions of compositional freedom

I
n the absence of words to guide their imagination, what can
any instrumental musician do but follow their fancy – or if
you prefer, their fantasy? By the mid-16th century the term
Fantasia covered almost any musical work conceived solely for an
instrument, without words or voices. That was how it emerged in
Italy and the Low Countries, though it was in England, in the era Beethoven’s Fantasia, Op 77, gives a vivid impression of his improvisatory powers
that began with Byrd and Gibbons and ended with Purcell, that
the idea of a Fantasia (or Phantasy, Fantazia or Fancy) acquired music (eg Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, 1876) and for
substance in its own right. colourful medleys like Grace Williams’s Fantasia on Welsh
Which was? ‘A musician taketh a point at his pleasure and Nursery Tunes (1940).
wresteth and turneth it as he list’, wrote Thomas Morley in 1597. But the description ‘fantasia’ also lets composers travel in
That’s the key to any fantasia: an invitation to the performer- more challenging directions. How else to describe something
composer to follow no rule but their own imagination. Of course, as startlingly original as Beethoven’s Sonata quasi una fantasia,
as soon as a flight of fancy – whether for lute, keyboard or consort Op 14 No 2 (1801 – the Moonlight Sonata) or Vaughan Williams’s
of viols – is written down, it becomes something altogether more Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis (1910)? The results can be
complex, as well as more permanent. No one could confuse highly structured, like Britten’s Op 2 Phantasy Quartet (1932 –
Purcell’s Fantasia upon one note (1680) with an improvisation. written for the Cobbett competition, which explicitly aimed
But the spirit is there: ‘fantasia’ gives a composer’s imagination to revive the Purcell-era ‘Fancy’) or Maxwell Davies’s two
a licence to run free. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia (c1720), Mozart’s Taverner Fantasias (1962 and 1964), and it’s no coincidence that
Fantasia K397 (1782), and the piano solo that opens Beethoven’s Sibelius originally planned to call his single-movement Seventh
Choral Fantasia (1808) all give a compelling idea of how these Symphony (1924) Fantasia sinfonica. But in each case, the effect
supreme composer-performers might have improvised. It’s a is the same: the title Fantasia suspends formal conventions, and
generous license – the term has been used (especially in the 19th frees the musical imagination to refresh itself with the spirit
century) for sets of flamboyantly entertaining variations such as of improvisation.
Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy (1882), as a pretext for programme Listen to our Fantasia playlist on Qobuz

IN THE STUDIO
O The all-female a cappella group Papagena, who enjoyed success at just been recorded at Vada Studio for the RSC’s own label. Repertoire
this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, were in the studio recently to included original music by Evelyn Glennie and Dave Price, plus music
record their Christmas CD – Adrian Peacock was producing. The editing by Humphrey Searle from the John Barton/RSC 1960 production.
is now complete and the release, on Somm, is scheduled for November. RSC musicians, including Joglaresa’s Belinda Sykes (voice), were
involved in the two-day session. A release date is yet to be announced.
O Following its premiere in July at the Cheltenham Music Festival,
Liverpool Lullabies – a double concerto for trombone and percussion, O Three Chandos artists have made recordings recently. In August
composed by Christian Lindberg for Evelyn Glennie – was recorded in violinist Jennifer Pike, accompanied by Petr Limonov, explored her
Antwerp last month. The work is the first-ever double concerto for this Polish heritage with the music of Szymanowski and Wieniawski; the
instrumental pairing. The recording took place at the Queen Elisabeth recording will be released in January. Meanwhile, in September,
Hall, with Lindberg conducting Glennie and the Antwerp Symphony Jean-Eflam Bavouzet recorded his fourth volume of Mozart piano
Orchestra from the trombone. The recording, on BIS, is likely to be concertos with Manchester Camerata, and Sir Andrew Davis and the
released next year. Toronto Symphony Orchestra recorded an all-Berlioz programme –
both are due for release in mid-2019.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B E E T H O V E N - H A U S B O N N

O Also on BIS but back in August, British soprano Carolyn Sampson


was joined by regular accompanist Joseph Middleton at Potton Hall to O The world-premiere recording of Tan Dun’s Fire Ritual – A Music
record a recital programme of English songs by composers including Ritual for Victims of War has just been recorded, alongside Dun’s
Bridge, Walton and Vaughan Williams. The release looks set for 2019. violin concerto Rhapsody and Fantasia, collectively marking an
eight-year collaboration between the composer and Norwegian violinist
O A recording of music used for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Eldbjørg Hemsing. Tan Dun himself was conducting Hemsing and the
production of Troilus and Cressida, directed by Gregory Doran, has Oslo Philharmonic for the recording, due out on BIS in March 2019.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 11


FOR THE RECORD

ORCHESTRA Insight …
Minnesota Orchestra
Our monthly series telling the story behind an orchestra
Founded 1903
Home Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis
Music Director Osmo Vänskä
Founding Music Director Emil Oberhofer

The Minnesota Orchestra has history. But only in the last


few decades has it has forged and nurtured a true and distinctive
identity, thanks to events on stage and off it.
As the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble made
a series of thunderous recordings under Eugene Ormandy from
the cavernous Northrop Memorial Auditorium. It was Ormandy,
taking over from the studious Belgian Henri Verbrugghen, who
nurtured the qualities needed to make competitive mid-century
recordings: a tight, impactful sound with powerful brass at its an astute choice given the orchestra’s penchant for clarity of
core. But just as much of that ‘sound’ came courtesy of Mercury articulation (Vänskä’s central obsession) and the genetics of the
Living Presence, and when the label was cut adrift in the 1960s, state of Minneapolis, where more than a fifth of the population
so was much of the orchestra’s ‘presence’ outside Minnesota. has Nordic blood. The complete Beethoven symphonies,
Subsequent chiefs Mitropoulos (who made the inaugural prioritising clarity and recorded on Vänskä’s label BIS, got
recording of Mahler’s First Symphony) and Dorati continued the ball rolling. The piano concertos, with Yevgeny Sudbin,
to record, just not for iconic Mercury. were noted by Richard Osborne for orchestral ‘strength and
The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra became the Minnesota sensitivity beyond compare’.
Orchestra in 1968. Six years later it moved to the purpose-built Naturally, Sibelius came next. Midway through the
Orchestra Hall, noted for its acoustic clarity and a key incubator symphony cycle (greeted as a new benchmark by Guy Rickards),
of the modern Minnesota sound. Stanisław Skrowaczewski a labour dispute locked the orchestra’s players out for more than
began to sculpt where his predecessors had often punched. a year from 2012. An entire season was cancelled and Vänskä
After Neville Marriner, Edo de Waart arrived, on a mission to resigned. It looked very bad indeed. But the orchestra’s
establish character, lamenting the fact that the orchestra wasn’t re-establishment, and Vänskä’s return, proved that the uses of
associated with any particular repertoire. He claimed Mahler adversity are sweet indeed. With the slate cleaned and Orchestra
and Strauss suited it best on record and that it wasn’t ready Hall spruced up, the orchestra is arguably playing even better
for Beethoven. than it did a decade ago. Living
But it was Beethoven’s music, in this century, that brought proof that what doesn’t kill you Find your
the orchestra back to the record shelves and to international makes you stronger. Andrew Mellor music on
www.qobuz.com
attention. Osmo Vänskä arrived as Music Director in 2003, Listen to our special playlist on Qobuz

plus engagements with major venues and


ensembles. You can watch the competition
The ROH opens up
at leedspiano2018.medici.tv. Meanwhile, the Following a £50.7m, three-year refurbishment
Honens International Piano Competition in project, London’s Royal Opera House is
Canada has given its first prize to 26-year-old following in the footsteps of many major
Georgian pianist Nicolas Namoradze. He, cultural venues by opening during the day,
too, receives a development programme ofering a daytime-events programme, plus
including concerts, management and new cafe and restaurant areas. Also reopening,
recordings, plus a cash prize of CAD$100K. in December, is the rebuilt Linbury Theatre,
Winners to watch Visit honens.com/livestream to watch the
performances. The final name to remember
the venue’s 400-seat studio auditorium.

The Leeds International Piano Competition comes courtesy of the Shanghai Isaac Stern
This month on Medici
P H O T O G R A P H Y: G R E G H E L G E S O N

has been won by 20-year-old American International Violin Competition – 25-year-


Eric Lu (above). As well as the prestigious title old American violinist Nancy Zhou, who Relive the Gramophone Classical Music
and £25,000, he also receives what the receives US$100K as well as performances Awards 2018, enjoy our Lifetime Achievement
organisers call a ‘portfolio prize designed with several orchestras. Search for the Award winner Neeme Järvi conducting Dvořák
with long-term career development in mind’, competition in YouTube and you’ll find and Richard Strauss and sample a Philippe
including an album on Warner Classics videos of the competition, including Zhou’s Jaroussky masterclass. Visit medici.tv and
and management with Askonas Holt, winning final round. type ‘Gramophone selects’ into the search box.

12 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

FROM WHERE I SIT


How many modern composers
write as well for the human voice as
Barber did, asks Edward Seckerson

W
hen you have been in the
business for as long as I have it is
especially gratifying to reacquaint
oneself with an operatic work one has long
admired but never seen staged. Samuel
Barber’s Vanessa is such an intriguing piece
(posing more questions than it ever manages
to answer) that recordings or concert
performances which leave the physical staging ‘in the shadows’,
as it were, can be strangely satisfying. But it is a stage work and to
see it staged at Glyndebourne this year by a director as perceptive
and searchingly theatrical as Keith Warner served to clarify some
of the questions whilst still leaving the intrigue firmly in place.
It was spooky, too, seeing it in the same week as the Proms West
Side Story minus its spoken dialogue – another experience throwing
the score into the starkest possible relief. And because both scores
begin with the dreaded ‘tritone’, or augmented fourth, whose
unsettling effect immediately shouts ‘thriller’ at you (funny how the
expectation of a perfect fifth a semitone short can strike uncertainty
or even panic into our expectations), it was fun to see Warner
pick up on the Hitchcockian elements of the piece and opt for
an environment of mirrors and reflections and all that they imply
psychologically. Better yet was his success in tacitly developing
the idea that the three women in the piece could actually be three
generations of the same woman. Cue that tritone again.
But what hearing Vanessa again really brought home to me was
the gratefulness of Barber’s vocal writing and the way it relates
to its orchestral surroundings. Hearing a singer like Leontyne
Price (lauded recently in my column on a new Met documentary)
embrace what Barber called ‘the raptus’ – the moment in
which the vocal line separates from its orchestral context – is
to appreciate his understanding of how the human voice works
and exactly what it is capable of. He was a singer himself and
as a composer his natural inclination towards song made for an
intuitive sense of how melody and line work in relation to an
accompaniment, be it a solo piano or a late-Romantic orchestra.
Vanessa may not work for some people as music drama – they
may well consider it a lot of hot air (I know eminently musical
people who do) – but they must surely acknowledge the intense
expressivity of what might best be described as the ‘natural
correspondence’ between its music and its words (by Menotti).
Writing gratefully for the voice is not given to many. When
Barber made a point of saying that to treat the voice as simply
another instrument, to treat it like or render it indistinguishable
from a clarinet or an oboe, a violin or a cello, is to deny its
uniquely ‘human’ qualities. All too frequently ‘contemporary
opera’ adopts what might be described as a generic template
of vocal pyrotechnics, one which pays scant attention to the
specifics of the words or indeed the individuality of vocal fachs.
At worst it’s like a series of nervous tics, one character, one voice
type, sounding much the same as the next. And how many times
have we heard the voice used for dramatic ‘effect’ as opposed to
expressive purpose? The perpetrators shall remain nameless –
but they could all learn from Barber’s example.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 13


RECORDING BACH

14 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


RECORDING BACH

BACH
An ever-shifting recorded landscape
Ahead of the release of ‘Bach 333: The New Complete Edition’, Nicholas Kenyon assesses
the startling evolution of Bach performance on record, from 1892 to the present day

W
hat did Bach sound like? should be used with caution: like any surviving
The answer, of course, is that historical documents, these recordings have to be
we can never know. It has interpreted and understood in relation to their
been 333 years since the time. How typical were they? Or do they
birth of Johann Sebastian, represent a reaction against the norms of the
and we realise that we cannot recapture the period? Importantly, this has not been
sound of most performances of his music: a one-way process of performances simply
they are irretrievably lost to us. There are being captured for posterity: recordings
some lively anecdotal accounts of Bach have themselves shaped and informed
himself performing, as a commanding developments in performing techniques,
improviser on the organ, and also as redefining our taste.
a somewhat challenged conductor of his
forces. As the rector of the Thomasschule The first recordings: small- and large-scale
in Leipzig recalled in 1738, ‘He keeps The earliest Bach recordings are musical
30 or 40 musicians in order, one by a nod, straws in the wind: we cannot tell whether
another by stamping time with his foot, and Jules Conus’s account of the first Minuet from
a third with a warning finger, and joins in Violin Partita No 3 recorded on October 4,
with his own voice … at once notices when 1892 (issued on ‘The Dawn of Recording’, from
and where something is wrong … and if there is Ward Marston), represents a tradition, any more
any hesitation restores certainty.’ But that doesn’t than Joseph Joachim’s isolated and surprisingly purist
tell us how the music sounded. accounts of two movements from the solo violin works, made
We may feel we know what Bach should sound like, but how in 1903, not long before his death. The start of the 20th century
far does that depend on the sonorities and traditions with which was the time when acute dissatisfaction began to be expressed
we grew up? We have come far enough in the continuing and with the way in which the large-scale choral society traditions
sometimes acrimonious debate about period-performance of the previous century had dominated Bach performance.
styles to know that there is George Bernard Shaw
no single original to which
a performer must aspire.
Arnold Dolmetsch began to argue inveighed against ‘our plan
of compensating for the
There is a complicated that music should be performed absence of some 10 or 11
interaction between the skilful and sympathetic singers
practices of the time, radical ‘clothed in its own fur and feathers’ by substituting 10 or 11
changes in performance and hundred stolid and maladroit
listening habits, and our desire to communicate today. What ones, however strong-lunged the 10 or 11 hundred may be’.
remains is our informed taste, shaped by involvement with One has to listen to recordings from after the First World
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M O N TA G U I M A G E S /A L A M Y S T O C K P H O T O

the materials that Bach and his colleagues left behind, our War – so from the last century – for real evidence of
understanding of the cultural and musical context that produced performance style. The rumble of the old traditions can still be
the music, and our own interpretative instincts and stylistic heard in the massive choral extracts from Bach’s B minor Mass
training. Or, as one of the pioneers of the Bach revival, the recorded under Dr Edward Bairstow at the Royal Albert Hall,
harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, put it rather more concisely, London, in 1926, in cantatas recorded under Sir Hugh Allen at
‘I study, I scrutinise, I love, and I recreate’: quite a manifesto. the 1928 Leeds Triennial Festival, and in motets recorded by
However, the most recent century of Bach performance has the Bach Cantata Club with Charles Kennedy Scott: feeling is
been different from others in one crucial respect: this has been strong, the sound is impressive, but precision is not of the
the century of recording and broadcasting. Bach recordings essence (the same spirit of communal music-making can be
provide a detailed guide to the seismic changes in Baroque glimpsed as late as 1958 in Vaughan Williams’s guidance of the
performance in general, and of Bach in particular, that have Leith Hill Music Festival in the St Matthew Passion, reissued on
taken place across these hundred and more years. But they Pearl). But this was also the period when Arnold Dolmetsch

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 15


RECORDING BACH

sampled on the ‘Bach 333’


edition. Then there is
Eugene Goossens, directing
the Third Brandenburg
Concerto at the Royal Albert
Hall back in 1923 – a
vigorously fast, rhythmic
account. Towe believes that
these versions point back to
a 19th-century Bach style
more faithfully than does
Mengelberg, an intriguing
hypothesis which must
remain unproven, but is
a valuable corrective to
the notion that all old
Bach performances were
thick and slow.
The other huge influence
on performing style is the
Glenn Gould (left) set the world alight with his recording of the Goldbergs (right), marking Bach's entrance into the mainstream individual virtuoso, who
sets her or his own terms.
began to argue for historical performance styles that ensured Wanda Landowska recorded as early as 1908 (the first
the music was ‘clothed in its own fur and feathers’. movement of the Italian Concerto), and her tremendous 1935
account of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue set a benchmark for
Early orchestral interpreters, the individual virtuoso
and popular transcriptions
The American guru of Bach recordings Teri Noel Towe has
The clarity, transparency and impetus
wisely warned against generalising about performance style from of Gould’s Goldbergs captured the spirit
a few recordings by great distinctive interpreters (for the full
discussion, visit bach-cantatas.com/teritowe). The famous account of the times to an uncanny degree
of the St Matthew Passion recorded in the Concertgebouw in
1939 under Willem Mengelberg has wild tempo fluctuations, the time. But equally musical, with a different elegance, is the
massive ritardandos and passionate climaxes. But does this Bach of the remarkable English harpsichordist Violet Gordon
reflect the style of the time, or an individual insight? Towe Woodhouse, who recorded Bach in the 1920s (Pearl). There
points instead to recordings by Siegfried Ochs in the 1920s were pianists too, including Harold Samuel, whose pristine
(very rapid and forward-moving in the opening of the St Matthew performances from 1923 to 1927 (also Pearl) still carry real
Passion) and the classic style of Hans Weisbach in the 1930s, conviction. Edwin Fischer’s legendary recordings of the
both of which represent a much more restrained Leipzig-based complete ‘48’ in the 1930s (Naxos) are still venerated by
tradition. That is also reflected in the radio recordings from the musicians. Dinu Lipatti recorded an isolated First Partita in

P H O T O G R A P H Y: F R E D P L A U T/ S O N Y M U S I C E N T E R TA I N M E N T; B A C H - A R C H I V L E I P Z I G ; S I E G F R I E D L A U T E R W A S S E R / D G
Thomanerchor of the 1930s under Karl Straube, which can be 1950 (EMI) before his untimely death. But it was the appearance
of the brilliant virtuoso
Glenn Gould’s first
recording of the Goldberg
Variations in 1955 for CBS
that really set the world
alight. Quite why this
individual, quirky,
penetrating account should
have made the huge impact
it did is a subject of its own,
but its clarity, transparency
and forward impetus
captured the spirit of the
times to an uncanny degree.
This marked the moment
when Bach entered the
mainstream, and for a time
in the 1960s it seemed as if
Bach would infiltrate every
corner of the pop repertory,
with the reinventions of
Jacques Loussier, the
Scholarly: Neville Marriner’s recordings were hugely successful, while Karl Richter was, likewise, an important Bach interpreter Swingle Singers and the

16 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


RECORDING BACH

Moog synthesiser, or the


passion of Nina Simone, who
said, ‘Bach made me dedicate
my life to music’.
Popular transcriptions,
adapting Bach to the taste and
genres of the time, actually
reflected a rather different
recorded tradition. Many
mid-20th-century listeners Helmut Walcha (top) began his first Bach
knew Bach through the organ cycle at the Jacobikirche, Lübeck
refashioning of his works on
record by conductors and composers – Stokowski, Respighi,
Schoenberg and Elgar – making them attractive in the age of
orchestral technicolour. But slowly that development was
implicitly criticised and overtaken by the growth of the
neoclassical style and the flourishing of small-scale chamber
orchestras and ensembles which claimed a purer approach.
Adolf Busch made a pioneering recording of the Brandenburg
Concertos in 1935 with Rudolf Serkin as the piano soloist on
No 5 and the early-music pioneer August Wenzinger on the
viola da gamba. ‘An artistic sensation,’ said Gramophone. This
was a decisive new direction.

The scholarly approach: from Walcha to Richter


The scholarly approach found a voice in Deutsche
Grammophon’s Archiv Produktion, founded in 1947 by
Dr Fred Hamel under the general policy of national heritage
conservation. Strongly musicological in tone with its sober
yellow covers and strictly organised recording periods, it was
spearheaded by the conductor Fritz Lehmann until his
premature death in 1956 and Hamel’s the following year.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: S I E G F R I E D L A U T E R W A S S E R / D G

The young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau memorably recorded solo


cantatas under Lehmann and Karl Ristenpart, and one of the
most influential of all Bach recording projects began in 1947:
the organ works under Helmut Walcha, recorded on
appropriate instruments starting in the Jacobikirche in Lübeck.
Blind from the age of 16, Walcha played from memory, and
went on to record a magisterial complete cycle in stereo.
After Lehmann, the Archiv mantle passed to one of the most
important Bach interpreters of the century, the conductor (and
organist) Karl Richter. His Bach had clarity, forcefulness and

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 17


RECORDING BACH

Revolution from Harnoncourt


and his followers
But revolution was in the air.
Already in the 1950s Nikolaus
and Alice Harnoncourt had
formed their Concentus
Musicus Wien, exploring
performance on period
instruments; and in 1954,
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, with
Gustav Leonhardt and
colleagues, recorded Bach
cantatas with the English
countertenor Alfred Deller
for Vanguard – a decisive
moment. Working out of
the limelight, Harnoncourt
Period-instrument practitioners: Musica Antiqua Köln and Reinhard Goebel (second from right); conductor John Eliot Gardiner developed his ensemble until,
in 1968, they recorded Bach’s
deep understanding. He worked with modern instruments and B minor Mass for Telefunken’s Das Alte Werk, a performance
accomplished soloists such as Edith Mathis, Anna Reynolds and which caused huge controversy and inaugurated a new style for
Ernst Haefliger; it was the discipline and attack of his Munich the following decades. Boys’ voices in the choir with female
Bach Choir and Orchestra that made such a powerful impression, soloists; period instruments with rasping horn and trumpets,
especially in his classic St Matthew Passion of 1958 with Haefliger, skating strings, quirky oboes and burbling bassoons, all with
Keith Engen, Irmgard Seefried, Hertha Töpper and Dietrich light, transparent, dancing textures – this was a revelation,
Fischer-Dieskau – an interpretation whose monumentality has though it was one to which some critics and scholars found it
been challenged in our time only by Otto Klemperer’s granite- difficult to adapt, and by which conventional performers on
like account of 1961 for EMI (with Peter Pears, Fischer-Dieskau, modern instruments justifiably felt threatened. The public had
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Christa Ludwig). fewer problems, and lapped up this revitalised sound world.
The success of that project, and of the Passions and the
The impetus had shifted towards the clean Brandenburgs, led to the proposal to record all Bach’s cantatas
with Harnoncourt and Leonhardt through the 1970s for
sound of period instruments, which in the Telefunken Das Alte Werk. The appearance of this series
year by year, in LP sets containing full orchestral scores,
1980s seemed ideally suited to the new CD unlocked a new understanding of Bach for many of us. It was
a thrilling time, full of the winds of change. The mid-1970s
Smaller-scale performances had become common in the UK, was the period when we heard radical sounds from Holland
such as Paul Steinitz’s pioneering work with his London Bach and Vienna; it was also the time of the formation of the
Society, too little of which was recorded, for Unicorn. Expert first British period-instrument groups, of which the leader
chamber-sized ensembles like the English Chamber Orchestra in Bach recorded performance was Trevor Pinnock’s English
under Raymond Leppard for Philips and the Academy of Concert, again under the Archiv banner, with Brandenburgs
St Martin in the Fields under Neville Marriner for Argo honed and orchestral suites that quickly became the standard
their 18th-century style within the prevailing traditions, and versions. Christopher Hogwood’s Academy of Ancient Music
created Bach recordings which enjoyed huge success, as did on Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre and, later, John Eliot Gardiner’s
those of Karl Münchinger’s Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. English Baroque Soloists on Philips followed, further
expanding the Bach period-instrument discography.
Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln pushed things
to the limit in their set of Brandenburgs for Archiv (which in
P H O T O G R A P H Y: J E N S VA N Z O E S T/ D G ; M I K E E VA N S / D E C C A ; S U S E S C H B AYAT/ D G
‘Bach 333’ is released on one disc for the first time), also
recording The Art of Fugue and Bach’s chamber music, adding
fine accounts of music by Bach’s family and contemporaries to
reveal the context from which Bach grew. Ton Koopman and
Philippe Herreweghe originally performed together and then
went their own separate ways, each producing fine Bach cantata
series – Koopman for Erato then Challenge, and Herreweghe
for Harmonia Mundi then Collegium Vocale Gent’s own label,
PHI. Period instrumentalists gained in skill and confidence, and
their versions began to dominate the record catalogues and
BBC Radio 3’s ‘Building a Library’ recommendations. Of
course, modern instrument groups continued to record this
repertory successfully, but somehow the impetus had shifted
inexorably towards the bright, clean sound of period
instruments, which in the 1980s seemed (not entirely
Period performer Ton Koopman went solo after having worked with Herreweghe coincidentally) ideally suited to the new CD.

18 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


J.S. BACH

THE NEW COMPLETE EDITION


CELEBRATING BACH’S 333RD BIRTHDAY
RELEASE: 26 OCTOBER 2018

Discover www.bach333.com
RECORDING BACH

Rafael Puyana (centre) cultivated a heavyweight harpsichord sound, while Alfred Brendel, Martha Argerich, Murray Perahia and András Schif helped resurrect Bach on piano

Shaking up choral music Freed from the needless stigma of inauthenticity, pianists led
It was the American scholar, pianist and conductor Joshua by András Schiff have reclaimed this repertory. For Schiff’s first
Rifkin who launched the next startling revolution in Bach piano recording of the Goldbergs on Decca, the harpsichordist
performance with his contention in 1981 that Bach’s Malcolm wrote a touching recommendation; Schiff’s Partitas
expectation would have been for his ‘choral’ parts to be sung and second recording of the Goldbergs for ECM represent
by one singer to a part. Launched with a recording of the a peak of the Bach revival on the piano. Other pianists have
B minor Mass for Nonesuch which claimed to be ‘in the since made wide-ranging contributions to the Bach discography:
original version’, his theories remain today the subject of Murray Perahia on CBS (with a fine Goldbergs) and now DG
considerable debate. But they produced some deeply musical (the French Suites), Angela Hewitt on Hyperion in all Bach’s
results, and stimulated a reappraisal of the forces needed for major keyboard works, and Maurizio Pollini and Pierre-Laurent
all of Bach’s vocal works. Rifkin recorded cantatas on Aimard on DG (the ‘48’ and the Art of Fugue). Occasional
Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre, and other leading examples included individual forays, too, have been made by Martha Argerich,
Andrew Parrott’s outstanding B minor Mass for EMI and Ivo Pogorelich, Richard Goode, Alfred Brendel and Nelson
Paul McCreesh’s St Matthew Passion for DG. Freire. Among the youngest generation, Benjamin Grosvenor
Among the conductors on Decca has recorded the
who have produced the most
recent complete cycles of
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf ’s expressive solos Bach-Busoni Chaconne,
and continuing interest in
Bach cantatas, Gardiner for Karajan are totally unlike the purist the art of transcription
(on DG and then his own label and reinvention has led to an
SDG) and Masaaki Suzuki (for style of Agnes Giebel or Elly Ameling endlessly fascinating Hyperion
BIS) do not agree with Rifkin’s series. My own favourite, very
theory of one-to-a-part choral performance, preferring chaste, example remains György and Márta Kurtág’s piano-duet
ensembles of 12 or 16 – but they do follow the principle that version of the Sinfonia to Bach’s Cantata No 106 (ECM),
the sounds and textures of solo arias should complement which they played at Ligeti’s funeral.

P H O T O G R A P H Y: C H R I S T I N A B U R T O N / D E C C A ; D E C C A ; H A R A L D H O F F M A N N / D G ; R O B E R T O M A S O T T I / E C M R E C O R D S
rather than contradict those of the ensemble movements. A similar evolutionary impulse in Bach performance can be
Most recently, pointing forward to a new stylistic integration, observed in the change in violin style from the unforgettably
John Butt’s Dunedin Consort on Linn has mixed deep intense accounts of the Concerto for Two Violins by David
scholarship with exuberant performance. and Igor Oistrakh (in several versions from the late 1950s
and early 1960s) to the conversion of Viktoria Mullova from
Further evolutions: resurrecting the piano, that solidly Russian style on her Philips recordings of 1992 to
freeing up the violin and enlivening the cello a lighter, flexible period-approach on her Onyx recording of
One of the most unfortunate myths established by the the Sonatas and Partitas made from 2007 to 2008. On the cello,
early years of the period-instrument revival was that the meanwhile, after Pablo Casals’s almost sacral approach to the
harpsichord was the only suitable instrument for Bach’s Suites, which he did so much to popularise, the supple,
keyboard music, and as a result, the piano was cast into dancing style of the period cello pioneered by Anner Bylsma
(fortunately temporary) outer darkness. The excitements has inspired a range of lively players from Pieter Wispelwey
of the heavyweight, quasi-orchestral harpsichords cultivated to Steven Isserlis and David Watkin.
by the likes of Ralph Kirkpatrick, Rafael Puyana, the
supremely musical Zuzana R≤i∂ková and the brilliantly Singers: signifying an ever-evolving tradition
extrovert George Malcolm gave way to the leaner, more The range of Bach interpretations now available to us,
ascetic approach of Leonhardt and Kenneth Gilbert, as the new ‘Bach 333’ set demonstrates, is vast and varied.
and the younger generation of Pinnock (Archiv) and Great singers, for example, from every era of recording have
Christophe Rousset (L’Oiseau-Lyre). The variety of engaged with Bach, and the results are not always predictable.
national approaches to the harpsichord is now endlessly Strong contrasts are present in each generation: Schwarzkopf’s
stimulating, with Pierre Hantaï and Jean Rondeau from expressive solos for Herbert von Karajan are totally unlike the
France, Rinaldo Alessandrini from Italy, and the Iranian purist style of Agnes Giebel or Elly Ameling, and while some
Mahan Esfahani (now on DG) opening new horizons. of us still cherish the technically challenged but eloquent

20 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


RECORDING BACH

boy treble soloists of the 1970s, sopranos such as


Emma Kirkby and now Dorothee Mields
have created a new style. In the alto repertory,
Kathleen Ferrier recorded a very moving Agnus
Dei from the B minor Mass just before her early
death, while the tradition of Helen Watts, Janet
Baker and Anna Reynolds has led to the sharper-
edged Anne Sofie von Otter and Magdalena
Koená, balanced by Bernarda Fink and the
unforgettable Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Whether
or not the countertenor voice can be reliably
associated with this repertory, René Jacobs, Paul
Esswood, Andreas Scholl and now Iestyn Davies
have decisively claimed the solo alto cantatas.
Performing traditions will continue to evolve
in response to changing taste, new research, the Three generations: contralto Kathleen Ferrier (centre), and mezzos Janet Baker and Magdalena Kožená
development of instruments, the building of
concert spaces, the means of distribution (live and recorded) we can listen to him in our way, whatever that may be.
and the behaviour of audiences. It would be very surprising if Somewhere, we can be sure, he will be listening in his.
these elements did not have a major impact on our way of
making music, but, given the availability of so many different Nicholas Kenyon is Managing Director of the Barbican Centre and
idioms, we do not need to reject anything in the search for author of the Faber Pocket Guide to Bach. He was a consultant to
performances that speak to us today. As Landowska is (more ‘Bach 333: The New Complete Edition’, a collection of 222 CDs
unreliably) supposed to have said: ‘You play Bach in your way, and 1 DVD presented by DG in collaboration with Decca Classics,
I will play him in his.’ Now, with the treasure trove of varied 30 other labels and the Leipzig Bach Archive; it is released on
performances in the ‘Bach 333’ collection at our disposal, October 26 and is reviewed in this issue on page 100

BACH ON RECORD, PAST AND PRESENT


Recommended: 10 landmark Bach recordings, by artists from Pablo Casals to John Butt, reflecting our changing taste
Cello Suites The first recording on period Mass in B minor of old-instrument Bach from
(rec 1936-39) instruments of Bach cantatas, by (rec 1968) Pinnock, Parrott and Hogwood,
Pablo Casals vc Leonhardt and Harnoncourt who Soloists; the second wave of historic Bach
Warner Classics would go on to record a historic Concentus discs brought this extraordinarily
The historic complete cantata cycle in the ’70s. Musicus Wien / racy take on the Brandenburgs.
recording which, alongside Nikolas Harnoncourt Warner Classics
Wanda Landowska’s harpsichord Goldberg The Bach performance that Partitas Nos 1-6
recordings and the Busch Variations prompted a revolution: period (rec 2007)
Chamber Players’ Brandenburgs (rec 1955) instruments, boys’ voices in the András Schiff pf
with Rudolf Serkin, inaugurated Glenn Gould pf choir, transparent textures and ECM New Series
the popular Bach revival on disc. Sony Classical dancelike clarity in Harnoncourt’s Schiff’s most
This burst into the world as new-minted vision. recent recordings, such as
Organ works a revelation and became an the Six Partitas and the Goldberg
(rec 1947) iconic recording of our time. Mass in B minor Variations, together with his
Helmut Walcha org Gould’s individual, penetrating (rec 1982) live performances of the ‘48’
Archiv take on Bach’s great variations Soloists; including at this year’s BBC Proms
The beginning of is performed in one compelling The Bach (where he performed Book 2),
the scholarly revival by Archiv sweep – not surpassed by his Ensemble / have reasserted the central place
of Bach’s music performed on later version. Joshua Rifkin Nonesuch of the piano in Bach performance.
appropriate instruments: the blind The start of a massive Bach
organist made his first recording St Matthew argument: Rifkin’s one-to-a-part St John Passion
from Lübeck in 1947 and went on to Passion performance of the Mass and (rec 2012)
record the complete organ works. (rec 1958) cantatas split critics and scholars, Soloists;
Sols; Munich Bach but has become increasingly Dunedin Consort /
P H O T O G R A P H Y: D E C C A ; H A R A L D H O F F M A N N / D G

Cantatas Choir and Orchestra / influential with performers. John Butt


(rec 1954) Karl Richter Archiv Linn Records
Alfred Deller This early Passion recording with Brandenburg The latest development in historic
counterten Evangelist Ernst Haefliger shows Concertos performance style: John Butt’s
Various Ensembles / Richter’s superbly disciplined (rec 1987) revealing interpretation
Gustav Leonhardt, forces at their most expressive, Musica Antiqua Köln / reconstructs the Leipzig liturgy
Nikolaus Harnoncourt with an intensity matched only R Goebel Archiv within which Bach’s Passion
Vanguard Classics by Otto Klemperer’s recording. Following on from the success would have been first heard.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 21


INGRID FLITER

22 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


Dreaming of
CHOPIN As a child, Ingrid Fliter found that listening to Chopin transported
her to a magical world. Now, in his Nocturnes, she finds a darker side
to the composer, as Jeremy Nicholas discovered

I
ngrid Fliter never decided to be a concert shaded courtyard cafe a few hundred yards away.
pianist. ‘It was just part of my life,’ she says, Perfect. Iced coffee. It transpired we have several
‘though I didn’t begin lessons until I was mutual friends. Gossip. Various pianists – their
nine – quite old. Playing music was simply merits and faults. More gossip. She’s articulate and
an extension of who I was. I couldn’t wait to open, and there is a refreshing gaiety about her.
get back from school to practise the piano. Laughter comes easily. More iced coffee. Eventually,
If I had been told I had to practise, knowing my I reminded myself that I was here to do an interview.
personality, I would not have done it! I did it with Fliter’s latest recording is another disc of Chopin,
a fascination for all this music in front of me. Every this time the complete nocturnes. What is it about
day, it was like unleashing a miracle.’ Gramophone the composer for which she has such a natural
has been consistent in its admiration for Fliter. affinity? To answer that, Fliter reaches back into
In welcoming her recording of the complete Chopin her family history. She is part of that whole South
waltzes back in December 2009, I felt that she set American diaspora of Jewish immigrants, the second
a new benchmark: ‘From beginning to end, this is
among the finest Chopin recordings of recent years.’ ‘As much as Jewish people are
Her recording of three Beethoven sonatas was an
Editor’s Choice in August 2011: ‘It is wonderful connected to life, they’re connected to
indeed’, wrote Bryce Morrison, ‘to encounter death; as much as they’re connected
a pianist of such exalted yet natural and unforced
artistry.’ And in November 2014, when Fliter’s disc to smiling, they’re connected to crying’
of Chopin’s preludes was the Record of the Month,
Harriet Smith placed Fliter in the same class as the and third generations of which have given us the likes
greatest Chopin interpreters – Rubinstein, Cortot, of Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Bruno Leonardo
Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire. Gelber, Sylvia Kersenbaum, Sergio Tiempo and
Fliter is by no means a prolific recording artist, but Daniel Levy. Her maternal grandmother came from
this has been a conscious choice: ‘I record only when Lithuania (Poland at the time), her paternal side from
I feel I can say something about this music,’ she says. Odessa. ‘They all emigrated at the right moment,
‘Not for the sake of another number. I’m not let’s say, in the late 1920s, some to America, some,
interested in that.’ This may also go some way to including my grandparents, to Argentina. They had
explain why, though much admired and respected nothing at all.’ Her own father was a successful naval
in the music business and by piano cognoscenti, architect. ‘Both he and my mother were music lovers
she is not as well known to the public at large as she and brought with them from Europe the importance
deserves to be. Her name, by the way (pronounced of being related to art. Jewish people have a direct
‘Fleet-eh’), rather fortuitously reflects the owner’s connection to the important, deep feelings in life
profession. She tells me it comes from ‘fluter’ – without any filter. As much as they are connected to
someone who plays the flute – and in Yiddish the ‘u’ life, they are connected to death; as much as they are
sound becomes ‘ee’. ‘That is what I want to believe, connected to smiling, they are connected to crying.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: A N T O N D R E S S L E R

anyway!’ she laughs. Even in the major klezmer pieces there is always
She lives near Lake Como. I flew out to Milan a little tear hidden. Never completely happy!
to meet her, instructed to rendezvous, La Dolce I grew up with the sense that Europe was the
Vita-style, at the front of La Scala. It was one of the centre of the culture that I wanted to be involved
hottest days of the year. The vivacious and elegant with – even though I was born in Argentina, the
Fliter had done some research while waiting for my furthest-away country in the whole world! In any
delayed plane to land and had found us a quiet, case, I did come from a heritage that was European.’

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 23


INGRID FLITER

There was a piano in the Linn’s gain, for not only


house in Buenos Aires where has it been a fruitful and
she was born (1973), and the commercially successful
first thing she remembers relationship but also it has
was her father playing Chopin enabled Fliter to continue
waltzes and nocturnes by ear. working with the same team
‘Not little tunes. Real music! (what she describes as ‘my
And my mother had little family’), completed by
a marvellous voice. I’m not her editor, Hobbs’s wife, Julia.
exaggerating. She would After the waltzes (EMI),
have loved to have been and the two concertos and the
a professional, but at that time preludes (Linn), the nocturnes
it was not so easy. As far as my were almost inevitable. ‘Most
parents’ record collection was of them I knew already – I had
concerned, Rubinstein was the been playing them all my life.
king. That’s how I discovered Some were new. So I came
piano music and Chopin to the project with some
in particular. I played his knowledge and intuition
recordings everywhere I went. Pure joy: Fliter becomes the first woman to win the Gilmore Artist Award in 2006 about them, but then you
I was maybe six or seven. So by get into the score and you
the time I started playing seriously, I already knew all the music. discover many other things, like the darker side of Chopin.
It was part of my language. I was not learning something “Nocturne” is not only about night. It’s about when the noises
strange – it was part of my everyday life. It was like floating of the day go away and whoever is writing or playing is in
– an un-connection with earth – when I listened. It was like contact with the subconscious. There are no barriers. You are
dreaming – “life dreaming”. It opens the door to a magic connected even more deeply to raw emotions. So a nocturne
world that you don’t really is not necessarily the quiet
understand, but you feel that ‘I want to get a taste of Chopin as a real moment of the day!’
it’s beautiful and you want to Fliter uses the Jan Ekier
belong to it.’ person with extremes, passion, blood in edition of the nocturnes.
Fliter’s early recordings were ‘Very trustworthy. He has
for VAI and then EMI where
his veins and, yes, moments of meditation’ studied everything, all the
her producer was John Fraser manuscripts, everything
and her sound engineer was Philip Hobbs. Since 2014 she has written by Chopin, and by his pupils. You see, I want to get
been with Linn. After EMI/Warner Classics decided not to a taste of Chopin as a real person with extremes, with passion,
continue with her (‘They had their own reasons,’ says Fliter, with blood in his veins, with eruptions of passion with, yes,
graciously), she learnt that Hobbs was working for Linn and moments of meditation and dreaming. All this put together
that Linn was interested in her. So Hobbs brought the two makes a very complex character – and that becomes the sound,
parties together. What was Warner’s loss has indisputably been that becomes the expression. I didn’t want to interpret these
nocturnes, or at least some
of them, in a “comfort zone”
way. I didn’t want to smooth
the edges. So that means
being cruel sometimes.
I wanted to explore the
inner pain of Chopin. It’s as
important a side of him as the
bel canto side, and this is, of
course, one of the main keys
to understanding his music.’
Chopin’s nocturnes
have been recorded many
times. What special thing,
I wondered, does she bring
to the party? ‘What I believe
P H O T O G R A P H Y: J O H N A . L A C K O , J O H N M C B R I D E

in is that I can be a storyteller


through the composer and,
without, I hope, sounding
too pretentious, that I can
try to become the music,
as though it was composed
in the moment. So I don’t
become the interpreter but
part of what is happening.
Warner’s loss, Linn’s gain: Fliter records her first Chopin disc for the label – the two piano concertos – in 2014 You hope that that feeling

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 25


INGRID FLITER

When Ingrid Fliter listened to Chopin’s music as a child, the reaction was immediate: ‘It was like floating – an un-connection with earth. It was like dreaming – “life dreaming”’

will be conveyed to the public, direct to the heart, in the most year. ‘He booked me every year after that. He asked me to play
clear way possible.’ the Bartók Sonata with him. Can you imagine what an honour
Fliter was first taught by Elizabeth Westerkamp (she died that was? To play with such an artist! I was devastated when he
only last year, aged 103), herself a pupil of Vincenzo Scaramuzza, died.’ Two years later she won second prize (to Yundi’s first)
the teacher of Enrique Barenboim (who taught his son Daniel) in the Chopin Competition – ‘another thing I couldn’t believe
and Martha Argerich. In fact, it was her legendary female because it was a dream. I grew up with the image of Martha
compatriot who changed Ingrid Fliter’s life. Invited to a party in Argerich winning the Chopin Competition. And there I was
Buenos Aires which the notoriously elusive pianist had agreed playing the F minor Concerto in that same hall.’
to attend, Fliter had been primed to prepare something to play Following that, in 2006 she became the fifth recipient – and
for her. ‘Chopin’s Third Sonata. Can you imagine? Why the first woman – of the Gilmore Artist Award, presented every
something so difficult?! So, the four years to a concert pianist
party. It is finishing. Nobody is
playing. Then the party
‘We always have to play to please someone. and totalling $300,000
($250,000 of which is to be
organiser says, “OK – Martha But we are ourselves only when we go spent on career development).
you have to listen to someone.” ‘In the first 10 years after the
“Yes, of course,” she said. against everything that is expected of us’ Gilmore award I was playing
“No problem.” She was in such maybe two hundred concerts
a good mood! “OK, who is playing?” Nobody said a word. a year. And I lived every note that I played. It was a unique
Everybody was too shy to play in front of her. But then I found opportunity. I worked for 15 years like a crazy person. You can’t
myself saying, “I will.” So I played the sonata. I don’t remember imagine. But now I have learnt to say no and only do what
if I played well, I was so nervous. At the very end of the party really interests me, what challenges me. I don’t mind how many
I went up to her and said, “Martha, give me some advice.” concerts I do a year.
“Well, you should come to Europe and study with my ‘What I have as an objective more and more is that in each
colleagues,” she said. “I’ll give you my apartment in Geneva. concert I play – even if it’s one a year, it doesn’t matter – I am
Come! Yes, yes. No problem.” Just like that. So generous.’ myself. You see, when we are kids, we artists have to live up to
That is when Fliter started her European life, studying the expectations of our parents, then of our teachers, then of the
with the Russian virtuoso Vitalij Margulis for a year at the juries, then of the public, then of the critics … We always have
P H O T O G R A P H Y: J O H N A . L A C K O

Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, then with Carlo Bruno in to play to please someone. And that’s the most wrong thing
Rome and lastly at the Academy ‘Incontri col Maestro’ in Imola we can do as artists. We are ourselves when we go against
with Boris Petrushansky (Fliter’s clarinettist husband Anton everything that is expected of us. That’s when we get in touch
Dressler is his stepson). In 1998, she was one of the last three with who we are. That’s the way we feel fulfilled. Not by
finalists in the Busoni Competition. On the jury was Zoltán giving one hundred concerts a year.’
Kocsis. He invited her to play with his orchestra the following To read our review of Fliter’s new Chopin CD, turn to page 66

26 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


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LANGGAARD IN VIENNA

The Vienna Philharmonic’s April 2017 performance of Langgaard’s Second Symphony at the Konzerthaus with soprano Anu Komsi formed part of the Dacapo recording

DANISH discovery The symphonies of an enigmatic Scandinavian composer


are not the usual fare for an orchestra steeped in
the central European symphonic tradition, but the
Vienna Philharmonic’s recent forays have been thrilling,
says Andrew Mellor

28 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


LANGGAARD IN VIENNA

T
his month, a niche But it was the quality of the music itself, with Dacapo’s
Scandinavian production values close behind, that induced the collaboration.
label releases new ‘I was in touch with the Vienna Philharmonic and had sent
recordings of them some scores,’ says Henrik Rørdam of Dacapo. ‘One day,
music by a niche Scandinavian I received a very pleasant and cultivated email from Dieter Flury,
composer. Business as usual, the Geschäftsführer before Harald Krumpöck. He explained
you may conclude, were it not that the orchestra had been discussing our suggestion, and had
for the fact that the disc of concluded that Nørgård was a completely underrated composer
two symphonies by the once- in the German-speaking world and that they wanted to do
forgotten Danish eccentric something about it.’
Rued Langgaard has been cut Nørgård clearly paved the way for Langgaard. ‘We all very
by the Vienna Philharmonic. much liked that recording and that music,’ says Krümpock,
That’s right, the Vienna who travelled to London to accept a Gramophone Award for the
Philharmonic: the physical enterprise in 2015, ‘and so we looked closely at Langgaard when
embodiment of the central Dacapo subsequently brought that music to us. We are really
European symphonic quite curious when it comes to repertoire, all of us. Everyone
tradition, an orchestra that is happy to discover something new, especially if it’s good.’
knows what it likes and what
it respects, and exercises
considerable discretion in
‘I have never experienced a sense of
respect of both. “Why are we playing this?” from the
For a week each in 2017
and 2018, this illustrious Vienna Philharmonic’ – Sakari Oramo
orchestra explored
Langgaard’s Second His comments might seem to fly in the face of the Vienna
and Sixth Symphonies Philharmonic’s reputation for conservatism, but on that front
respectively, playing Oramo is a good impartial observer. ‘The Vienna Philharmonic
both in the Konzerthaus’s players have certainly realised in the last few years that it’s good
subscription series and for them to open new doors. The orchestra has completely
recording them for release transformed in that respect and is 100 per cent committed
on Dacapo Records. when it takes on unusual repertoire. I have never experienced
‘Personally, I’m very excited a sense of “Why are we playing this?” from them.’
about the quality of this Engagement, and a whole lot more, was apparent at
music and about Langgaard the performance of Langgaard’s Symphony No 2, Spring
as a composer,’ says Harald Awakening. The symphony, performed and recorded here in
Krumpöck, Geschäftsführer the original version from 1914, is an elaborate work cast in
(managing director) of the three movements, the last including an imposing solo soprano
Vienna Philharmonic, just who recounts texts in German by Emil Rittershaus. It occupies
minutes before taking his a late Romantic idiom clearly influenced by Strauss, Wagner
seat in the second violins for and perhaps even Schumann in its rollicking momentum and
the orchestra’s performance propulsive inner mechanism.
of the Second Symphony in Hearing the piece rendered by the Vienna Philharmonic was
April 2017. ‘I think Langgaard thrilling indeed. The first movement’s magnificent horn calls
is still to be discovered and resounding coalition of double basses and bass trombone
and absolutely should be have never, to my ears, sounded more resonant. I doubt they
discovered. He is a genius.’ have for anyone, certainly not since the Vienna Symphony
Readers who double as Langgaard devotees will surely concur. Orchestra played the piece across the road at the Musikverein in
They might also have clocked that Langgaard’s Straussian 1922. The final movement’s endlessly weaving strings – under
Second Symphony is decidedly more luscious and central Anu Komsi’s grand rendition of the soprano line – stood as
European in sound than it is cool and Scandinavian. But still, a full-blooded reminder that this is the orchestra of Solti’s Ring.
it’s both bizarre and wonderful that Sakari Oramo’s Langgaard ‘I think that special string sound that the Vienna Phil has
recordings for Dacapo are to pop up midway through the comes from playing all these operas,’ suggests Oramo the
Vienna Phil’s steady stream of Beethoven, Mussorgsky and day after the live performance of the symphony and the day
Mahler on Sony Classical and Deutsche Grammophon. before the sessions begin. Perhaps the most striking element
Does the orchestra have a strategy when it comes to recording? of Oramo’s interpretation was the breadth and depth he found
‘We do think about strategy,’ says Krumpöck, ‘but then things in the symphony’s central slow movement. Is that something
come along that don’t follow the strategy.’ he consciously sculpted or was it a result of the natural sound
One of them was the orchestra’s recording of Per Nørgård’s conditions? ‘It came from three things,’ says Oramo. ‘Firstly
P H O T O G R A P H Y: L U K A S B E C K

First and Eighth Symphonies, the start of its relationship the hall, which really allows it. Secondly the playing culture
with Dacapo. Many thought that project strange enough, of the Vienna Phil, which is very sound-orientated and sets
including its own conductor, Sakari Oramo: ‘I remember them apart from every other orchestra in the world. And
thinking, “What?! The Vienna Philharmonic and Per thirdly because I wanted to approach the score as if it were
Nørgård?!”’ Oramo exclaims when I ask how the project a little like an improvisation; to bring out a little more of
was sold to him. the rhapsodic in it.’

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 29


LANGGAARD IN VIENNA

Langgaard’s catalogue of 16 symphonies travels from the the German-speaking world than he did in Scandinavia, and
monolithic First, premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic under arguably had the sound of central European orchestras in his
Max Fiedler in 1913 when the composer was just 19, to late mind for all his orchestral music – a sign not only of his musical
works that are eccentric in every conceivable way – length, preferences, but also of his almost total disenfranchisement
gait, tonality and philosophy. The Eleventh, performed by the from the Danish music scene.
BBC Symphony Orchestra at the 2012 Proms, lasts around five ‘I’m sure the orchestras here, in Germany and Austria,
minutes and consists of little more than a single ‘stuck’ cadence. were better at that time, which had something to do with
If the slightest signs of modernist rebellion peep through the it,’ says Oramo. ‘It’s the same with Sibelius. He admired the
Second, they start to appear in earnest in the Fourth. By the Viennese orchestral sound and I think, soundwise, the Vienna
time of the Sixth – though Langgaard would, unfathomably, Philharmonic is the best Sibelius orchestra in the world, even
write neo-romantic symphonies even after the Eleventh – the if they don’t know the music as well as some others.’
language has changed altogether. Oramo’s comments put an interesting slant on the notion
In the Sixth Symphony, that a Viennese orchestra
subtitled The Heaven-Rending
and completed in 1920 but
‘I thought, “I’ d love to hear some of our performing Nordic music
is somehow the wrong way
later revised, the stylistically music played by a very, very good central round. ‘We always talk about
erratic Langgaard reacts to northern music in the light
the music of Nielsen that he European orchestra”’ – Preben Iwan, Dacapo of northern expressivity,
so frequently condemned and when we hear Nordic
in public. We hear destructive forces that are mostly absent orchestras playing Nordic repertoire, there’s certainly
from the youthful abandon of the Second and constitute a something to it,’ says Preben Iwan, Dacapo’s producer not just
clear reaction to Nielsen’s Fourth. Langgaard’s biographer for this recording but for the Nørgård project and the label’s
Bendt Viinholt Nielsen has compared the language of the full cycle of Langgaard’s symphonies under Thomas Dausgaard.
symphony to music that Hindemith wrote – ‘but later on’. ‘But some years ago I started to think, “Is that really right?
‘This is something very different,’ says Oramo. ‘It reminds I’d love to hear some of our music played by a very, very good
me of Vaughan Williams in some ways; it’s very austere and central European orchestra.” In the case of Nørgård, the music
very intense, often with only two or three voices, certainly not actually asks for it – the symphonies have this broad, deep sound
this lush texture.’ as opposed to the lighter sound we perhaps have up here.’
At the time of the recording of the Second Symphony, There’s no doubting the difference in sound the Vienna
Oramo insisted that the Vienna Phil would take to the Sixth Philharmonic brings to both composers. But perhaps even
just as naturally, even if there’s no doubting the closeness more important, from both a recording industry and repertoire
of the Second’s language to the orchestra’s inherent sound expansion point of view, is prestige. ‘I am quite sure that working
and tradition. Langgaard always enjoyed more success in with the Vienna Philharmonic on Langgaard – in a similar way

Sakari Oramo conducts the Vienna Philharmonic playing Langgaard’s music at the Vienna Konzerthaus – ‘making Danish music better known in the world’

30 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


LANGGAARD IN VIENNA

to working with
the New York
Philharmonic
on Nielsen – is
having an impact
on the way the
world is looking at
these composers,’
says Rørdam.
FOLLOW YOUR…
Perhaps that’s
why Dacapo has
managed to attract
VOICE!
the investment
from private
foundations in
Denmark which
has paid for the
projects. But the
effect on the label
has been significant
too. ‘Our levels
of recognition
have completely
changed since we
Rued Langgaard in 1918, in his twenties started working
with orchestras of
this calibre,’ says Rørdam. ‘We are viewed differently externally TIM MEAD COUNTERTENOR ALPHA 419
and internally, and within the Naxos family (Naxos being
Dacapo’s distributor). Naxos’s CEO Klaus Heymann thinks
I am insane for spending money on these projects, but Dacapo
is now considered an international label.’

‘I’m quite sure that this is having an


impact on the way the world is looking at
these composers’ – Henrik Rørdam, Dacapo
So what of the Vienna Philharmonic? As I leave Krumpöck’s
office in the Musikverein, he hands me a pile of CDs – all of them
Sony Classical or DG. ‘Recording is still important for us, but
P H O T O G R A P H Y: L U K A S B E C K , T H E R O YA L D A N I S H L I B R A R Y; D E P A R T M E N T O F M A P S ; P R I N T S A N D P H O T O G R A P H S

the business has changed,’ he says. ‘Today it’s less about making JULIEN BEHR TENOR ALPHA 401
a conductor or soloist famous, and more about orchestras
recording projects from their concert schedules and recording
live, which as a musician I am very happy about.’ He dismisses
any talk of the orchestra establishing its own recording arm.
‘The labels we work with are very passionate and very competent.
We are happy to do our job and let them do theirs,’ he says.
But that only works if you have the pulling power of the
Vienna Philharmonic, and have offers from such labels piling up
on your desk almost every day of the week. Krumpöck refers
once more to the Nørgård project: ‘It was so well balanced,
the sound of that recording, and really so very interesting for
us,’ he repeats. Next to the discs he has handed me – Pictures
at an Exhibition from Gustavo Dudamel, the New Year’s and
Summer Night’s Concerts recorded live and Jonas Kaufmann’s
solo rendition of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde – it’s easy to JULIAN PRÉGARDIEN TENOR
see why he might conclude as much. But curiosity and quality ALPHA 425

only count for so much, certainly when you run the numbers.
‘This is all due to the extraordinary willingness of some Download or stream the albums in Hi-Res on
institutions to make Danish music better known in the world,’
says Oramo. ‘Wherever the funds come from, they are being DISTRIBUTED IN THE UK BY RSK ENTERTAINMENT
used very well.’ & IN THE US BY NAXOS OF AMERICA INC.
The Vienna PO’s recording of Langgaard will be reviewed next issue

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 31


RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Harriet Smith listens to revelatory Chopin and Schubert from Steven Isserlis and
Dénes Várjon, and admires the beauty and passion they bring to this great music

Chopin . Schubert . Franchomme – cellist, composer and


Franchomme faithful friend of Chopin’s – whose
Chopin Cello Sonata, Op 65. Introduction and C minor Nocturne is an elegant affair,
Polonaise brillante, Op 3. Nie ma czego trzeba, melodically charming if not harmonically
Op 74 No 13 (arr Isserlis) Franchomme Nocturne, particularly striking. But you couldn’t
Op 15 No 1 Schubert Arpeggione Sonata, D821. imagine it being better played and it
Nacht und Träume, D827 (arr Isserlis) certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Steven Isserlis vc Dénes Várjon pf This forms a neat link from Chopin
Hyperion F CDA68227 (77’ • DDD) in brillante mode to his last published
masterpiece, the Cello Sonata. I have to
Can it really be 10 years since Steven confess that I’ve sometimes felt that this
Isserlis and Dénes Várjon proved a can sound meandering with its first-
wonderfully innate partnership with their
disc of Schumann cello music (5/09)?
‘We get a real sense of give movement repeat (a sensation I had with
Alban Gerhardt and Steven Osborne, also
This new disc is every bit as impressive, and take, Isserlis and on Hyperion, who at times sound
perhaps even more so. uncharacteristically unconvincing in this
The very first thing we hear is the Várjon giving Chopin’s work). But not here: one of the discoveries
beautiful 1851 Érard, as Várjon launches Isserlis mentions in the notes – his usual
into Chopin’s Introduction and Polonaise lines a pliable quality mix of quiet erudition, enthusiasm and
brillante (the pitch a tad lower than
modern-day concert tuning).
that brings them to life’ self-deprecating humour – is that the
tempo for this movement
The two players bring to the shouldn’t be Allegro moderato
Introduction a sense of but Maestoso, which gives it
freedom – consoling one a quite different mood.
moment, delicate the next, We get a real sense of give
and then altogether more and take from the off, Isserlis
mournful – and the composer’s and Várjon giving Chopin’s
high-lying filigree in the lines a pliable quality that
keyboard has an effortless brings them to life, while the
fluidity. The Polonaise struts beautiful second subject is given
its stuff without ever sounding time to breathe, to rapturous
effortful, with Isserlis’s effect, the two players taking
pizzicatos really pinging through the dynamics right down.
the texture. Passagework that, in Throughout, the Érard is
some hands, can seem like mere the ideal vehicle for conveying
stuffing is here never less than the airiness of Chopin’s filigree
scintillating. Gautier Capuçon passagework, while the two
and Martha Argerich are, true musicians relish the moments
to form, more extreme in this of stillness in Chopin’s more
work, the polonaise rhythms inward writing.
exuberant, perhaps too much so, The Scherzo dances with
with Capuçon favouring a more a rare sense of ease, Isserlis
full-on vibrato. surmounting the shifts in
Isserlis always plans his register effortlessly and the
programmes painstakingly, and climaxes never becoming
here makes a case for Auguste Late masterpiece: Chopin’s Cello Sonata has rarely had such telling advocacy overblown even when Várjon

32 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


RECORDING OF THE MONTH

Steven Isserlis, with strong support from pianist Dénes Várjon, brings intense beauty and character to Chopin and Schubert, from rapture to poignancy

is playing at full pelt. The slow movement slow movement on this new account Chopin Introduction and Polonaise – selected comparison:
has the intensity that du Pré and perfectly balances rapture, simplicity G Capuçon, Argerich (EMI/WARN) 607367-2
Barenboim bring to it, which is rather and beauty, the dynamic shadings used to Schubert Arpeggione Sonata – selected comparisons:
lacking in the hands of Gerhardt and potent effect. The finale, too, is not simply La Marca, Savary (10/11) (FUGA) FUG584
Osborne, yet it never feels overstated, the consoling affair it can be, but full of
Isserlis letting the plangency of the cello’s poignant asides. KEY TO SYMBOLS
phrases speak for themselves, and while the As a bonus we get two song
F £10 and over D Download only
tempo is unhurried the sense of forward transcriptions in Isserlis’s own
M £7.76 to £9.99 3 Reissue
motion is unerring. The finale is another arrangements; Chopin’s Op 74 No 13
B £6.25 to £7.75 1 Historic
place where the choice of piano makes a conjures a mood of great tragedy within
S £6.24 and below T Text(s) included
great difference to the overall effect – on its brief span, while Schubert’s ‘Nacht und
P H O T O G R A P H Y: F I N E A R T/A L A M Y S T O C K P H O T O , S P E R R Y

(price per disc) t translation(s)


a modern instrument it’s all too easy for the Träume’ has a beseeching quality that is
b Compact disc included
piano to overwhelm. But here Várjon can simply irresistible. Hyperion’s engineers
(number of discs S Synopsis included
play out, which he does to joyous effect. have given the two players a fine recording,
in set) s subtitles included
Their Schubert Arpeggione is similarly detailed and immediate.
Í SACD (Super nla no longer available
thoughtful and full of details that so often Even among Isserlis’s many fine discs,
Audio CD) aas all available
pass by unnoticed. Isserlis talks in the notes this one stands out. And if you still need
◊ DVD Video separately
of the work’s ‘immense, if understated, convincing that the Chopin Cello Sonata
Y Blu-ray oas only available
sadness’ and that is beautifully brought is a total masterpiece, this is the recording
6 LP separately
to life here, from the aching introduction to do it.
onwards. The cellist and pianist of Trio Chopin Cello Sonata – selected comparisons: Editor’s Choice
Dali impressed me in this work a while du Pré, Barenboim (2/73R) (EMI/WARN) Martin Cullingford’s pick of the
back, similarly yearning yet also capturing 586233-2 or 091934-2 finest recordings reviewed in
the sonata’s moments of geniality. The Gerhardt, Osborne (11/08) (HYPE) CDA67624 this issue

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 33


Orchestral
Harriet Smith explores the minor Andrew Mellor zens out with the
delights of Bronsart and Urspruch: latest from Anne Akiko Meyers:
‘In the tarantella finale, even a call to order ‘Lauridsen’s own arrangement of O magnum
in the form of a loud fanfare cannot displace mysterium reveals how much it owes to the open-
the mayhem for long’ REVIEW ON PAGE 38 prairie sound of Copland’ REVIEW ON PAGE 49

JS Bach and brilliant, and with a subtle push and especially, make expressive capital out
Keyboard Concertos – No 1, BWV1052; pull which drives rather than slows the of Enescu’s dizzily interweaving textures.
No 2, BWV1053; No 3, BWV1054 overall momentum. He’s fearless with his Interesting too how the transition from
Marcin Świątkiewicz hpd touch, too, putting his full weight behind that same movement to the initially
Zefira Valova, Anna Nowak-Pokrzywińska vns his fortes to maximise dynamic contrasts. tranquil Lentement third movement
Dymitr Olszewski va Tomasz Pokrzywiński vc As for embellishments, the musicians resembles, in its effect, the parallel shift
Channel Classics F CCS40418 (56’ • DDD) are following instincts rather than a literal from ‘storm’ to ‘shepherd’s hymn’ in
reading of the score. The strings in the Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Enescu’s
D major Concerto’s final Allegro are a string-writing often has a Regerian
wonderful example of the life and complexity about it, though, unlike Reger,
Rarely have I clapped personality this enables. Listen to their endless modulation isn’t a feature of his
ears on a new Bach joyous little tucked embellishments and style. What most absorbs me about this
harpsichord concertos savour especially Valova’s cheeky folky wonderful piece are its rich ingredients,
offering and heard upwards inflections at 2'12". an aspect that Frang and her collaborators
such a distinctively characterful and And all this without anybody ever appear to relish to the full. There are other
exuberantly flowing sound right from the sounding like they’re taking scholarly versions available – including an excellent
opening bars. However, when you consider liberties. Au contraire, this simply feels like online live performance led by Janine
that Marcin Świa˛tkiewicz was the music-making fully in the spirit of those Jansen – but none quite matches Frang’s
harpsichordist who in 2015 shone an Leipzig Friday nights. Charlotte Gardner team for spontaneity, ardour and keenness
attractively characterful and joyous light of attack.
on the little-known keyboard concertos of Bartók . Enescu In an ideal world, I would have
Johann Gottfried Müthel (BIS, 6/15), then Bartók Violin Concerto No 1, Sz36a preferred more Enescu (a violin sonata,
it all clicks into place. Enescu Octet, Op 7b perhaps) as a fill-up rather than Bartók’s
Everything here has been meticulously Vilde Frang, bErik Schumann, bGabriel First Concerto, especially considering a
and knowledgeably thought through, Le Magadure, bRosanne Philippens vns plethora of fine Bartók concerto recordings
beginning with Świa˛tkiewicz’s having used b
Lawrence Power, bLily Francis vas bNicolas that has appeared in recent years. Still,
a different, brilliantly judged keyboard for Altstaedt, bJan-Erik Gustafsson vcs aRadio Frang again hits the target, especially in
each work: for the D minor Concerto a France Philharmonic Orchestra / Mikko Franck the Allegro giocoso second movement,
darkly resonant German instrument with Warner Clasics F 9029 56625-5 (58’ • DDD) which she plays with lightning inflections,
a 16-foot register; for the E major a more switching in a trice from breathless
delicate French model; and a jewel-toned animation to sighing lyricism, always
Flemish model for the D major. with a light touch. For me this music
Świa˛tkiewicz’s forces are based on Absolutely stunning. epitomises the heady excitement of
the string-quartet-without-double-bass Had the Heifetz- youthful infatuation (such as I remember
model Bach used at his Friday-night Café Piatigorsky team it!) and Mikko Franck draws consistently
Zimmerman concerts in Leipzig. First tackled Enescu’s string alert playing from his French players.
impressions aren’t of a lean chamber sound Octet, I doubt that they would have topped Sound quality throughout is first rate, so
at all: its crispness comes so very glowingly this version by Vilde Frang and friends. I predict a potential Gramophone Awards
warm and full-textured. Yet you can also Although a relatively early work, the nominee for 2019. Fingers crossed.
hear every musician – good news when Octet has in common with Brahms’s early Rob Cowan
the ensemble is topped by Il Pomo d’Oro chamber music a striking level of maturity,
concertmaster Zefira Valova and the opening motif setting the scene for Bernstein
underpinned by Tomasz Pokrzywiński, a 37-minute roller coaster that en route ‘Broadway to Hollywood’
Arte dei Suonatori and Holland Baroque’s takes in warmth, Bartókian aggression, Candide – Overture. Fancy Free. On the Town –
principal cellist – and there’s no question interrupted calm and, to close, a sort of The Great Lover; Lonely Town. On the
that the sound’s strikingly light-footed, valse macabre at top speed. Furthermore, Waterfront – Symphonic Suite. West Side Story –
flowing and liberated quality is the reward the thematic material that Enescu conjures Symphonic Dances
of gifting such a crack team of period is invariably memorable. Hanover Philharmonie / Iain Sutherland
specialists complete autonomy over their Frang is joined by seven top-ranking Somm Ariadne F ARIADNE5002 (75’ • AAD)
individual parts. Świa˛tkiewicz himself leads players (including viola player Lawrence Recorded live in the studios of NDR
this gloriously unleashed character: nimble Power) who, in the fiery second movement Radiophilharmonie, Hanover, 1993

34 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Intimacy and transparency: Alisa Weilerstein and the Trondheim Soloists gives outstanding accounts of Haydn and Schoenberg – see review on page 40

and angry at the start, full of grand passion


later on. The booklet notes tell us that
Fancy Free comes complete but in fact the
For its Bernstein pas de deux and the Galop and Waltz have Opinions differ about
centenary tribute, been cut, which is a great shame, since the Debussy’s Fantaisie,
Somm’s historical performance is witty and unforced, the his only work for
label Ariadne has sleazy bar-room atmosphere nicely caught piano and orchestra,
released a series of previously unavailable and maintained. completed in 1890. Self-critical as always,
NDR broadcasts from Hanover in 1993, The playing, meanwhile, is enthusiastic Debussy himself was seemingly in two
conducted by Iain Sutherland, best known if raw round the edges in places. The brass minds about it: after stating that he thought
in the UK, perhaps, for his work with the are very big-band and full-on, though the the finale weak, he nevertheless withdrew
BBC Concert Orchestra, most notably horn solo at the start of On the Waterfront the score ahead of its premiere, when
for Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night is smooth, Mahlerian, and a bit too polite. Vincent d’Indy, scheduled to conduct,
and more recently with his own Iain Textures can sometimes be dense, insisted on giving the first movement on its
Sutherland Concert Orchestra for particularly in the Candide Overture, own. It remained unperformed until 1919.
Classic FM. His considerable credits which ideally needs to be lighter on its Despite the title, the work is essentially a
elsewhere, meanwhile, include broadcasts feet. The sound quality is clear if variable. piano concerto in Franckian cyclic form, and
of classic musicals, both for the BBC and We’re not told when the individual in a booklet note for his new recording with
NDR, the foundation of the City of performances were taped, but the dances Alexander von Oeyen, Emmanuel Villaume
Glasgow Philharmonic in 1988 and a long from West Side Story and On the Town get argues that more pianists would be drawn
association with the English Haydn the warmer, better balanced recordings: to it if Debussy had simply designated it as
Festival, of which he was Principal Guest elsewhere the bass is sometimes heavy such. The bravura solo writing, however,
Conductor for 10 years from 1999. and the brass a bit too far forwards. remains controversial. Stephen Walsh, in
His Bernstein is strong and trenchant, Tim Ashley his recent study of the composer, describes
P H O T O G R A P H Y: A N D R E A S T E R L A A K

often exhilarating, never sentimental. The it as ‘showy’ in ways that are essentially
dances from West Side Story blend energy Bizet . Debussy . Ravel foreign to much of his output, a criticism
with restraint, the opening bristling with Bizet Symphony Debussy Fantaisiea that is difficult to dismiss despite the
tension, the Mambo hard-driven and Ravel Ma Mère l’Oye – Suite attractiveness of the thematic material and
electric, the ‘Somewhere’ Adagio clean a
Andrew von Oeyen pf the work’s striking harmonic language.
and very reined in. On the Waterfront is Prague Philharmonia / Emmanuel Villaume Von Oeyen’s style, weighty yet elegant,
dark and brooding throughout, fierce Warner Classics F 9029 56259-3 (72’ • DDD) suits it wonderfully well, though. There’s

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 35


A thrilling account from Martyn Brabbins and his
BBC Symphony forces of one of the mightiest of first
symphonies, one which fully realizes the work’s very
special sense of occasion. RVW aficionados will also
welcome the coupling: a short, virtually unknown
setting of more Whitman.
CDA68245
Available Friday 28 September 2018

Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony


ELIZABETH LLEWELLYN soprano, MARCUS FARNSWORTH baritone
BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, BBC SYMPHONY CHORUS, MARTYN BRABBINS conductor

Volume 77 of the Two Romantic cello


Romantic Piano sonatas in typically
Concerto presents committed
two substantial performances from
works from the latter one of the world’s
half of nineteenth- favourite cellists.
century Germany. CDA68227
Available Friday 28 September 2018
CDA68229
Available Friday 28 September 2018

Bronsart & Urspruch:


Piano Concertos Chopin: Cello Sonata
EMMANUEL DESPAX piano Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata
BBC SCOTTISH SYMPHONY STEVEN ISSERLIS cello
ORCHESTRA / EUGENE TZIGANE DÉNES VÁRJON Érard piano

A return to the An enticing


sufferings and all- compendium of first
too-occasional joys thoughts, alternative
of courtly love as versions and lost
portrayed by works from the
Machaut in the master of all things
next of this Lisztian.
important series. CDA68247
Available Friday 28 September 2018
CDA68206
Available Friday 28 September 2018

Machaut: The gentle physician Liszt: New Discoveries – 4


THE ORLANDO CONSORT LESLIE HOWARD piano

CDs, MP3 and lossless downloads of all our recordings are


OTHER LABELS AVAILABLE FOR
DOWNLOAD ON OUR WEBSITE

Gimell
available from www.hyperion-records.co.uk
HYPERION RECORDS LTD, PO BOX 25, LONDON SE9 1AX · info@hyperion-records.co.uk · TEL +44 (0)20 8318 1234
ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

reflection as well as bravado in the opening through impact in an orchestra of this Mackerras’s pioneering set with the
movement, while the central Lento really size; second because we feel external Scottish Chamber Orchestra – discs that
is molto espressivo, becoming darker and forces too obviously manipulating the were clearly labelled ‘in the style of the
increasingly introspective as it progresses. general energy flow, in place of the internal original Meiningen performances’,
Villaume’s conducting similarly blends machinations of the music itself (born of presumably to assure buyers that there was
refinement with élan, and his Prague those atomic chords). historical precedence behind the notion of
orchestra are on fine form, the strings Throughout the opening Allegro, the a smallish orchestra playing the canonical
beautifully sensuous, the woodwind feeling persists that the source of the Brahms four. Paavo Berglund followed suit
gracefully poised. Von Oeyen’s treatment music’s momentum is not as organic as it with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe,
of the finale, meanwhile, dispatched with could or should be – that sometimes it’s Thomas Dausgaard is engaged in an
breezy wit over pizzicato basses sounding too obviously coming from the forcing ongoing series with the Swedish Chamber
positively jazzy, makes you question hand of the conductor. The best movement Orchestra (see above) and the SCO has
Debussy’s judgement about its inferiority is the last; not over-driven (unlike the recently re-recorded the cycle, this time
to the rest of the score. Andante) and benefiting from the cut- with Robin Ticciati.
It’s an impressive achievement, as is through of the winds, especially in those Setting these recordings’ disparate
the performance of Ma Mère l’Oye that pivotal moments when they control of the interpretative perspectives aside, I believe
accompanies it. Villaume takes the work agenda. As before, the SCO are delectable it’s safe to assert that their common goal in
faster than some, and gives us a very adult when the textures become polyphonic but, employing a reduced string section is
interpretation that looks back nostalgically in this emotionally heavier work, it can be textural clarity – or, as Venzago puts it in
at childhood even as it recreates its wonder frustrating when that polyphony isn’t paid his explanatory booklet note, ‘a focus on
and unease. It’s exquisitely played and the off with real churning depth (especially woodwind’. Strange, then, that his accounts
emotional ambiguities are all immaculately from the strings). are not notable for their lucidity. Even in
judged: Petit Poucet, lost in his forest, None of that stops this series being the D major Serenade, a work squarely
sounds very sad, and Beauty responds to ever illuminating and an added benefit in the purview of a chamber orchestra,
her Beast with a mixture of disquiet and here is in the generous fill-ups. Dausgaard’s the winds often get swamped even by this
genuine fascination. own orchestrations of the Hungarian Dances smallish sea of strings. Whether this is the
So it’s a shame that the third work Nos 11-16 are infectious, by turns rustic fault of the conductor or the engineers,
here, Bizet’s Symphony in C, doesn’t quite and syrupy (the conductor’s trademark I can’t say. I’ll wager, however, that the
achieve the same level of finesse. Bizet took push-and-pull is at its mesmerising best in violins’ glassy sound is an engineering issue
Gounod’s Symphony in D as his model, No 16). There’s a slight lack of repose in and unrelated to their sparing use of
though Villaume steers the score closer the tight choral sound of the Alto Rhapsody, vibrato. Indeed, the Tapiola Sinfonietta
to Beethoven or Schubert, and the end where a larger, more breathy, amateur play with impressive unanimity and
result is at times heavy-footed and oddly chorus would offer more of a blanket conviction for Venzago, whose direction
charmless. Recommended for the Debussy embrace than the men of the Swedish demands suppleness as much as precision.
and the Ravel, but you need, perhaps, to Radio Choir. Anna Larsson is a little Those put off by some unusual tempos
look elsewhere if Bizet is your main focus blustery in the rhapsody and can be in this conductor’s Bruckner cycle will find
of interest. Tim Ashley approximate in her contribution to three nothing so outlandish here. Even when
of Schubert’s Six Songs in Brahms’s Venzago sets a brisk pace, as in that First
Brahms arrangement, but Johan Reuter’s three Serenade’s Adagio non troppo or the Second
Symphony No 3, Op 90. Alto Rhapsody, Op 53a. make a huge impact. His Beethovenian Symphony’s Allegretto grazioso, he allows
Six Hungarian Dances from WoO1 (orch insistence and focus in ‘An Schwager the phrases room to breathe so there’s no
Dausgaard). Six Schubert Songs (arr Brahms)b Kronos’ is thrilling and the colour feeling of undue haste. It’s in music that
ab
Anna Larsson contr bJohan Reuter bar gradations in his ‘Griesengesang’ – requires tautness and drive that these
a
Male Voices of the Swedish Radio Choir; over grainy low winds and strings – is readings tend to fall short, so the inner
Swedish Chamber Orchestra / Thomas Dausgaard remarkable. All of this is worth hearing; movements are generally the most
BIS F Í BIS2319 (78’ • DDD/DSD • T/t) Reuter’s singing, totally united with the persuasive. All four slow movements are
orchestra, is rather more. Andrew Mellor absolutely ravishing, in fact, each evoking
an individual world of character and colour,
Brahms from the First’s lyrical abandon to the
More muscular, Four Symphonies. Two Serenades Fourth’s elegiac solemnity. The Poco
immediate Brahms Tapiola Sinfonietta / Mario Venzago allegretto of the Third is drenched in
here from Thomas Sony Classical B c 19075 85311-2 (3h 41’ • DDD) melancholy – listen to the way the cello’s
Dausgaard’s opening melody captures the very essence
Meiningen-sized Swedish Chamber of that elusive mezza voce marking, and the
Orchestra but, where the previous two halting phrases when the violins take the
instalments (the first two symphonies – Mario Venzago’s tune near the end, as if they can’t bear to
4/13, 2/18) have been blessed with recordings of Bruckner let go of it. I’m also delighted by the way
invigorating momentum, this performance symphonies with the Venzago jiggles the accents in the Allegro
of the Third is more problematic. The Tapiola Sinfonietta giocoso of the Fourth so its rhythms
sound of the two opening chords is and other chamber orchestras raised practically froth.
arresting and fresh but ultimately the eyebrows and furrowed brows. I doubt The most successful overall
chords themselves don’t prove as his Brahms will provoke much if any performances are of the Second
energising as they could – first because controversy. It’s now more than two and Fourth symphonies and the First
the string entry that follows lacks follow- decades since the release of Charles Serenade. I wish Venzago was less

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 37


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

subdued in the Second’s finale – all those dreamy second subject, introduced by disguise the essential vapidity of Urspruch’s
manic forte explosions are underplayed – the soloist and interlaced with eloquent creation. The Bronsart, on the other hand,
although he does finally let loose in the woodwind. And it’s hard to imagine it is a more than worthy addition to the
coda, so it ends satisfyingly, at least. The being better played than by these forces, series. Harriet Smith
opening Allegro non troppo of the Fourth Emmanuel Despax displaying a wide Urspruch – comparative version:
is astonishingly delicate; I’ve never heard range of colours combined with an easy Triendl, Nordwestdeutsche Philh, Fritzsch
anything like it and, a few distractingly virtuosity. The recording places him fairly (6/18) (CPO) CPO555 194-2
lurching tempo changes aside, its well to the front, so he doesn’t have to
eloquence took me by surprise. fight through the orchestral textures to Bruckner
So where does that leave us in terms make himself heard. String Quintet (arr Schaller). Overture
of Meiningen-style Brahms? Ticciati too The broad slow movement has an Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra /
often gets lost in his pursuit of detail; eloquence to it which is very affecting. Gerd Schaller
Mackerras’s flexible approach to tempo If it’s not melodically the most telling of Profil F PH16036 (57’ • DDD)
(borrowed from markings by the movements, Bronsart’s ear for orchestral
composer’s friend, Fritz Steinbach) can effect provides interest and it ends in a
feel contrived; and Dausgaard’s series, mood of utter serenity. The finale is
while largely impressive thus far, remains marked Allegro con fuoco but that gives little The scale and richness
incomplete (BIS, 4/13, 2/18, and above). idea of what is in store – a bumptious of Bruckner’s String
That leaves Berglund, who illuminates tarantella that completely undermines Quintet have
without casting any distracting shadows the dignity of what has gone before. Even encouraged a number
or glare. Actually his is one of but a few a call to order in the form of a loud fanfare of arrangements for string orchestra over
wholly recommendable cycles, and that’s cannot displace the mayhem for long. It the years, and even a version for chamber
saying something. I’ll be hanging on to requires prodigious playing from soloist ensemble, but this is the first time that
Venzago’s set, however, not so much for and orchestral musicians to make it sound the work has received an arrangement
entire works but for when I want to as effortless as here, and that it does is for full orchestra. In an essay in the CD
luxuriate in one of the exquisitely played tribute as much to conductor Eugene booklet, Gerd Schaller acknowledges
middle movements. Andrew Farach-Colton Tzigane as to Despax. that the Quintet stands apart from the
Symphonies – selected comparisons: Though Anton Urspruch’s Piano composer’s symphonies but felt inspired
SCO, Mackerras (10/97) (TELA) CD80450 Concerto dates from nine years later, it by the symphonic essence of the music to
COE, Berglund (8/01) (ONDI) ODE990-2T sounds earlier than Bronsart’s, evoking create an orchestration for strings, double
SCO, Ticciati (4/18) (LINN) CKD601 Beethoven (and sometimes Brahms) in woodwinds, two trumpets, three trombones
pastoral mode. It unfolds on a grand scale and timpani. There are precedents for
Bronsart . Urspruch but alas does not have the imagination such a treatment, of course, notably
‘The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol 77’ found in Bronsart’s concerto. While its Schoenberg’s transcription of Brahms’s
Bronsart Piano Concerto, Op 10 gently billowing quality might initially Piano Quartet No 1 and, more recently,
Urspruch Piano Concerto, Op 9 seem attractive, nothing much else Kenneth Woods’s orchestration of the
Emmanuel Despax pf BBC Scottish happens over the first movement’s same composer’s Piano Quartet No 2.
Symphony Orchestra / Eugene Tzigane 24 minutes. Note-writer Jeremy Nicholas Unlike both Schoenberg and Woods,
Hyperion F CDA68229 (75’ • DDD) sums it up well: ‘the first movement rarely however, Schaller has retained the original
departs from a bucolic evocation of chamber-music character of the work,
Alpine meadows and streams.’ But, unlike using the additional forces mainly to add
Beethoven’s take on such a scene in his colour and contrast, rather than bringing
The astounding thing Pastoral, there’s no danger of storms forth a fundamentally new presentation of
about Hyperion’s ahead, and even Despax can’t disguise the the score. In addition to the Quintet’s usual
Romantic Piano triumph of infilling over melody. So it’s four movements, Schaller has also included
Concerto series is all the more remarkable that this is the Bruckner’s brief Intermezzo (originally
that, at Vol 77, it’s still going strong second account to have been released in conceived as a replacement for the
and that it has, in the main, avoided a matter of months, following a fine one Quintet’s Scherzo) as the fourth
musical Z-listers. from Oliver Triendl and George Fritzsh, movement, making a five-moment
Bronsart, or Hans August Alexander their first movement unfolding at a piece in total.
Bronsart von Schellendorf, to give him slightly more flowing pace than this There’s no doubt that Schaller, who has
his full moniker, wrote his F sharp minor new account. recorded a full cycle of the symphonies as
Piano Concerto in 1873, when he was 43, In the Andante, lento e mesto we well as a making a completion of the
so historically it falls between Brahms’s momentarily seem to have dipped into unfinished finale of the Ninth Symphony,
two piano concertos, whose own writing the slow movement of Bach’s E major is deeply sympathetic to Bruckner’s music.
it emulates in terms of its symphonic Violin Concerto – if only it had continued I’m not convinced, however, that the gain
approach to the genre. But it also betrays in such an inspired vein – but alas this does from hearing the String Quintet in an
moments that are pure Liszt (sample the not linger in the memory. And while the orchestrated form outweighs the loss of the
first movement from 13'15"), which is not finale is spirited enough (and again highly original chamber-music conception.
surprising given that Bronsart had been Beethovenian in some of its piano Although it could be argued that the
a Liszt pupil and premiered his Second figuration), it’s a case of a triumph of closing bars of the first and last movements
Piano Concerto. But this is by no means duration over interest; here I marginally benefit from the extra weight of the full
a work without a personality of its own, prefer the CPO reading for its greater orchestra, the additional instrumentation
as witness its noble opening tutti or the sense of playfulness but neither can elsewhere often sounds superfluous and

38 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

unidiomatic. In the case of the Adagio in eager application from the BBC SO. The Gipps
particular, one of Bruckner’s most inspired opening movement unfolds with a defiant Symphonies – No 2, Op 30; No 4, Op 61. Knight
movements, I found myself yearning for sweep and enviable sureness of purpose in Armour, Op 8. Song for Orchestra, Op 33
the simplicity and radiance of the scoring (Davis takes the impassioned orchestral BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Rumon Gamba
for string orchestra. exposition at quite a clip). At the same Chandos F CHAN20078 (69’ • DDD)
The disc also includes a performance of time, these artists are fully alive to this
the Overture in G minor, one of Bruckner’s music’s nervy, at times angry undertow.
earliest orchestral works. It’s an attractive The slow movement emerges with an
piece that was first recorded by Henry easy flow and unaffected simplicity that ‘That’s the best piece
Wood as early as 1937, although it’s contrast strikingly with the more heart- of classical music
rather fallen out of favour in recent years. on-sleeve approach taken by Yo-Yo Ma you’ve played to me’,
Schaller’s interpretation is well played but on his pioneering version with Vernon quipped my 10-year-
the versions by Chailly (Decca, 1/90) Handley and the RPO (Lyrita, 3/79, 8/07), old daughter on hearing Ruth Gipps’s
and especially Skrowaczewski (Oehms while the Allegro giocoso rondo finale Second Symphony. There is no room here
Classics) seem to me more effective in bounds along with delectable swagger to go into the extent of her musical frame
communicating the spirit of the piece. and rhythmic snap. of reference but suffice it to say it is
The recording of both works, made in In terms of keen temperament and exponentially broader than mine was at
Prague Radio Hall, is noticeably drier interpretative spark, the performance put twice her age! As these four works show –
than the sound of Schaller’s earlier me in mind of Tim Hugh’s conspicuously three receiving premiere outings on disc –
recordings of Bruckner’s music made taut account with Howard Griffiths Gipps (1921-99) was a distinctive composer
in the reverberant Ebrach Abbey. conducting the Royal Northern Sinfonia with something to say and the technique
Christian Hoskins (Naxos, A/01). Nor do I forget the lasting with which to say it. The single-movement
virtues of Chandos’s own rival offering Second Symphony (1945) is a good case in
Finzi featuring Raphael Wallfisch (10/86), again point, its eight sections bearing traces of
Cello Concerto, Op 40a. Eclogue, Op 10b. Grand with Handley, at the helm of the RLPO the conventional four-movement format
Fantasia and Toccata, Op 38b. Nocturne, Op 7 (which, I see, has been repackaged for a as well as an integrated set of variations.
a
Paul Watkins vc bLouis Lortie pf third time coupled with concertos by Bax, The bedrock of Gipps’s style was
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis Bliss and Moeran). Vaughan Williams, with whom she studied
Chandos F Í CHSA5214 (71’ • DDD/DSD) This newcomer, like the Naxos issue, from 1937. Gordon Jacob, whom she
brings more Finzi: the deeply touching would succeed upon his retirement, was
Nocturne (New Year Music) – most her orchestration teacher and these works
eloquently done – and his two piano revel in expert scoring and quintessential
Recordings of Gerald concertante works, the beguilingly serene Englishness. Yes, there are occasional
Finzi’s imposing Eclogue and by turns ruminative and resonances of Holst and Rawsthorne –
Cello Concerto scintillating Grand Fantasia and Toccata. even Lilburn (another VW student) in the
(premiered at the The French-Canadian virtuoso Louis Second’s Allegro moderato (track 11) – or
Cheltenham Festival under John Barbirolli Lortie seems wholly attuned to the idiom, Walton in Knight in Armour (1940), her
in 1955, the last full year of the composer’s his playing full of grace and fire, and in the musical calling card premiered at 1942’s
life) have never been thick on the ground; former’s closing pages he taps into a vein of Last Night of the Proms. Song for Orchestra
if memory serves, this is only the fourth to deep-rooted mystery as old as time itself; (1948) is a miniature highlighting her own
have come my way. Very impressive it is, Davis’s accompaniments, too, are past instrument, the oboe, but the main event is
too: not only does Paul Watkins evince his praise in their scrupulous attentiveness. her superb Fourth Symphony (1972), a
customary purity of intonation, unruffled The beautifully balanced sound has the contemporary of Tippett’s Third, more
technical address and selfless dedication, satisfying richness and glow we have come orthodox in design but still one of the finest
he forges a healthy, infectiously tangible to expect from Chandos. As should be British symphonies of the decade.
rapport with Andrew Davis, who obtains abundantly clear by now, this is something Fine as Bostock’s Munich version was of
playing of commendable discipline and of a treat. Andrew Achenbach the Second Symphony, the BBC National

S CHUBERT - SYMPHONIES 1 & 6


RENÉ JACOBS
B’ROCK ORCHESTRA
On his first album released on PENTATONE, multiple prize-winning conductor
René Jacobs finally records Schubert, his first great musical love. Jacobs delivers
his fresh perspective on the favourite composer of his youth together with the
exceptional players of the B’Rock Orchestra, acclaimed for their inspired
playing, musical curiosity and original approach to the classics.
PTC 5186 707

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www.pentatonemusic.com in the UK by

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 39


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Orchestra of Wales outpoint it in every a confiding inwardness, not least in passages of fragile lyricism and an
department. All their accounts here are Weilerstein’s rapt pianissimo in the closing occasional glimmer of bittersweet nostalgia,
wonderfully sensitive, the solo playing stages of the D major’s Adagio. This is my but little respite, as even these quickly
beautifully articulated, the structures kind of Haydn. evaporate or splinter into violent spasm.
perfectly brought out by Rumon Gamba. It’s also my kind of Schoenberg. Listen, for instance, at 2'12" in the second
Perhaps this is indeed the best music I have Performing his 1899 tone poem with a movement, where the solo violin slowly
played to my daughter. hyper-responsive group of some 20 players, rocks back and forth (in D major/minor),
Guy Rickards with Weilerstein now leading the cellos, wheezing like an ancient squeezebox; or
Symphony No 2 – comparative version: allows you to combine the advantages of to the yearning melody that unexpectedly
Munich SO, Bostock (10/99R) (CLAS) 108 079 both the original sextet version and blossoms at 2'56" in the third movement.
Schoenberg’s later transcription for string Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who
Haydn . Schoenberg orchestra. There is neurasthenic fervour commissioned the concerto, aptly describes
‘Transfigured Night’ aplenty in this performance, with all the it as ‘brutal and vulnerable at the same
Haydn Cello Concertos – No 1; No 2 desperate intensity you could wish for in time’, and her performance conveys that
Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht, Op 4 a work that never holds back on climaxes. dichotomy with ferocious commitment,
Trondheim Soloists / Alisa Weilerstein vc But what lingers in the memory is the aided with equal fearlessness by the
Pentatone F Í PTC5186 717 (73’ • DDD/DSD) subtlety and delicacy of so much of the International Contemporary Ensemble
playing (say, in the exquisitely floated under Tito Muñoz. The music’s intense
violin-cello duet at the moment of the physicality and bleak atmosphere make
lovers’ reconciliation), the clarity of the for gripping, if harrowing, listening.
Only a cellist who dense contrapuntal textures and the natural What draws me to listen again and
paired Elgar and Elliot handling of Schoenberg’s tricky-to-gauge again is Hersch’s ability to communicate
Carter on her concerto transitions. From the near inaudibility of desperation that somehow never plummets
debut album could the lugubrious opening, teetering on the into despair.
have devised this left-field programme edge of audibility, the dynamic range, too, Hersch seems to find inspiration in the
that confronts unsullied Enlightenment is astonishing. If you like your Verklärte work of artists with a similar sensibility;
optimism with the fin de siècle Vienna of Nacht lofty and monumental, Karajan and the Violin Concerto is connected to a
Freud and Klimt. Yet, in performances the peerless Berlin Philharmonic strings sculpture by Christopher Cairns, for
of such freshness, verve and chamber (DG, 3/75) still lead the field. But for a instance, and has verses by Thomas Hardy
transparency, the concept works. It reminds performance that combines chamber- as its epigraph. With end stages (2016), a set
us, too, that Schoenberg always protested musical intimacy, transparency of detail of seven aphoristic miniatures, the stimulus
that he was not subverting but merely and urgent human expressiveness, you was a series of drawings by artist Kevin
perpetuating the great Austro-German won’t do better than this. Tuttle (handsomely reproduced in the
tradition from Bach and Haydn onwards. Richard Wigmore CD booklet). The first four are quite terse
You’d go far to find performances of the and suggest noirish cinematic fragments.
Haydn concertos that match Alisa Hersch Starting with the fifth, however, the
Weilerstein’s mix of stylistic sensitivity, Violin Concertoa. end stagesb emotions become more richly articulated –
verve and spontaneous delight in discovery. a
Patricia Kopatchinskaja vn or, as Aaron Grad puts it in his perceptive
Weilerstein is a risk-taker by nature; and a
International Contemporary booklet notes, the pieces ‘move
the helter-skelter finale of the C major Ensemble / Tito Muñoz; bOrpheus progressively inward, rather than forward’.
takes impetuosity to the edge. But such Chamber Orchestra Ideally, I think the latter movements would
is her technical prowess, and the New Focus F FCR208 (54’ • DDD) benefit from a rawer sound than the
mingled eagerness and skill of the young b
Recorded live at Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA Orpheus Chamber Orchestra give us here,
Trondheim Soloists, that she carries it off, but the performance’s cumulative power is
brilliantly. She brings a puckish glee to the considerable nonetheless.
lightning passagework in thumb position, Andrew Farach-Colton
yet never short-changes Haydn’s brief Michael Hersch’s
moments of lyrical eloquence. Violin Concerto Holst . Elgar
Both first movements, too, are unusually (2015) immediately Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March, Op 39
mobile, and all the better for it. Here is hurls us into a No 1 Holst The Planets, Op 32a
music-making with a spring in its step and wrenching scene. Trumpet and horn yelp a a
Women’s Voices of the John McCarthy Chorus;
a twinkle in the eye that, you sense, would distressed fanfare as the remaining body of Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Mike Batt
have delighted Haydn. The opening Allegro the 13-piece orchestra lurches forwards in Guild F GMCD7814 (59’ • DDD)
moderato of the D major too easily outstays convulsive dotted rhythms. A minute or so Recorded 1993
its welcome. In Weilerstein’s hands it later the solo violin enters with slashing
sparkles rather than, as so often, chugs, semitone double-stops, as if struggling to
with an inventive variety of colour and make its raspy voice heard.
attack and an airy grace in the potentially This concerto, like much of Hersch’s Why, you may rightly
tedious reams of demisemiquavers. recent work, can be interpreted as a musical ask, has it taken fully
Crucially, too, the orchestral support is battle of life and death – the composer is 25 years for this set of
always lithe and supple, with a real vitality a cancer survivor and lost a close friend Holst’s The Planets to
in the repeated-note bass lines. Both slow to the disease in 2009 – although I’d say see the light of day? Well, there can be few
movements marry beauty and purity of line it’s closer to unsparing reportage than grumbles with Simon Rhodes’s full-
(vibrato restrained and subtly varied) with emotional confessional. There are brief blooded, intrepidly wide-ranging sound

40 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

(emanating from Watford Town Hall), Batt generates lots of bluster but rather consistent goal-orientation, its charged
but I’m a good deal less persuaded about less in the way of freshness of discovery, energy field sitting between extreme
the merits and durability of the actual twinkling affection or songful dignity; polarities, is all Lindberg’s own and
performance. Certainly, by the side both Andrew Davis (Chandos, 7/12) and recognisably so. Notable features include
of Vernon Handley’s magnificent Mark Elder (Hallé, 11/15) demonstrate the soloist’s frantic, crude sawing away at
interpretation with the same orchestra set exactly how it should be done. the open strings, a muster point to which
down a just a few weeks later in October Andrew Achenbach he returns as if to recharge and refocus,
1993 for ‘The Royal Philharmonic and the work’s raised-eyebrow, backdoor
Collection’ on Tring International (7/94), M Lindberg ending. Zimmermann gives the piece his
Mike Batt’s reading emerges as a merely Violin Concerto No 2a. Tempus fugit considerable all, though there’s the
competent, somewhat flabby affair, by no a
Frank Peter Zimmermann vn occasional moment of ambiguity right
means always devoid of a whiff of routine. Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu at the top of his register.
In ‘Mars’ I quickly found myself craving Ondine F Í ODE1308-5 (58’ • DDD/DSD) Tempus fugit (2016-17) is more of a
the canny terracing of dynamics and sense riddle. This is Lindberg looking back
of elemental power in reserve that make on himself: revisiting, courtesy of a long
the Handley such a gripping experience. period of research, harmonic techniques
‘Venus’ has plenty of lusciousness but is Magnus Lindberg he explored in the late ’80s. It’s odd
just a little wanting in concentration and wrote his Violin hearing echt ‘Lindberg’ gestures copied by
silken poise, while ‘Jupiter’ is too heavy Concerto No 2 (2015) Lindberg himself, like a dancer trying to
on its pins for my own tastes. Most for Frank Peter retrace his own steps by studying a grainy
damagingly, towards the end of Zimmermann. Whether or not the old VHS. The music is still built from the
‘Neptune’ there are chronic problems German’s thick-set tone and pre-eminence bottom up but the five-part piece never
of pitch between the women’s choir and in Szymanowski influenced the Finnish really soars, and the devolution into
orchestra, further exacerbated by Batt’s composer, the work is one of Lindberg’s chamber-like textures feels mannered,
laboured tempo. most tonal and luscious to date. However robbing the music of that essential
All in all, then, not a Planets to store tightly woven, this is a Romantic concerto Lindberg quality: the feeling of a
away for future reference; better to stick in disguise, where Lindberg’s First was mammoth single structure heaving its
with Boult, Sargent, Steinberg, Previn, more Classical. The theme aired towards way along. It is characteristically wise
Dutoit, Mackerras, Handley, Elder, the end of the first movement that comes of Lindberg to have taken stock in
Gardner … the list goes on and on. to fruition in the central one (there are no Tempus fugit but the process’s ripest
There’s a fill-up in the shape of Elgar’s movement breaks) is short, emotive and fruits may be still to come.
D major Pomp and Circumstance March. could be by Korngold; the music’s Andrew Mellor

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 41


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Mendelssohn compromised, making this a vividly of many years’ experience, not to mention
Violin Concerto, Op 64a. Octet, Op 20b enjoyable presentation. finely played – albeit in studio conditions
Chouchane Siranossian, bBalázs Bozzai, bNicolas David Threasher and presumably with slightly smaller
Mazzoleni vns bBernadette Verhagen, bKatya Polin Violin Concerto – selected comparison: forces – but without any hint of quirkiness
vas bDavit Melkonyan, bAstrig Siranossian vcs Faust, Freiburg Baroque Orch, Heras-Casado or imposed ‘individuality’ for its own sake.
a
Anima Eterna, Bruges / Jakob Lehmann bvn (A/17) (HARM) HMM90 2325 These two symphonies are recorded so
Alpha F ALPHA410 (60’ • DDD) Octet – selected comparison: often (and the coupling is virtually set in
Recorded live at the Concertgebouw, Bruges, Eroica Qt et al (6/11) (RESO) D RES10101 stone) but this is nevertheless a high-class
a
November 24, 2016; bNovember 27 & 28, 2017 and eminently pleasing addition to their
Mozart discography. David Threasher
Symphonies – No 40, K550a; Selected comparison – coupled as above:
No 41, ‘Jupiter’, K551b SCO, Mackerras (4/08) (LINN) CKD308
Chouchane Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra /
Siranossian and Herbert Blomstedt Rachmaninov . Sibelius
Anima Eterna BR-Klassik F 900164 (73’ • DDD) Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 3, Op 30a
present not the Recorded live at the Herkulessaal, Munich, Sibelius Symphony No 2, Op 43
familiar versions of these two evergreen a
January 30 & February 1, 2013; a
Gerard Aimontche pf
masterpieces but instead go back to the b
December 21 & 22, 2017 Chineke! Orchestra / Roderick Cox
original versions. That means a solo line Signum M b SIGCD548 (85’ • DDD)
in the concerto with occasional departures Recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall, London,
from the one we know and some rather July 16, 2017
radical (and wonderful) extra music in the Mozart’s late
Octet, most ear-catchingly in the first symphonic music is
movement. Matters of 19th-century nowadays so much
performance practice come into play the province – almost In an ideal world
too, with straighter tone – vibrato used the property – of the period-instrument there should be no
as shading rather than colour – and, brigade that a recording by a traditional need for a special
most noticeably, a greater reliance ‘big’ orchestra might seem somewhat old- orchestra that selects
on portamento. fashioned. Don’t be fooled. These musicians on the basis of colour and race,
Isabelle Faust took a similar approach performances by the warm-toned any more than for one that prescribes
in her recording of the concerto and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with gender or sexuality. But perhaps such a
Siranossian’s compares well with that the octo- and nonagenarian conductor universe is still as utopian as John Lennon’s
earlier disc. One may even prefer the sound Herbert Blomstedt eschew all notions of ‘Imagine’. Meanwhile, for founder Chi-chi
of the new version: slightly more closely plushness for a drive and determination Nwanoku the Chineke! project is all about
miked with a keener focus on the violin that one might more readily associate ‘redressing balance and changing
which, in Faust’s case, sounded a touch with younger, slimmer, more supposedly perceptions’, and a review is not the
more spindly than here. The orchestra, ‘informed’ groups. place to editorialise.
too, sound excellent in this live There’s an undertow of danger to the Now in their third year, Chineke!
performance – so much so that, in the best outer movements of the G minor (K550) Foundation and Orchestra are entering a
way possible, you realise that you have that is easily missed if one seeks in them phase where they deserve to be scrutinised
barely noticed them. only Schumann’s ‘Grecian lightness and according to their actual ability and
Siranossian takes the lead in the grace’. The Jupiter retains its suavity and achievements, not just for their novelty
magnificent Octet of Mendelssohn’s classical balance without descending for and agendas. They are certainly on their
teenage years, possibly to the extent of a second into complacency. Tempos way to showing that they can be considered
being rather more than primus inter pares, remain keen, with even minuets offering on a par with any non-Black and Minority
her individual voice and style clearly in the something of a kick. Moreover, there is a Ethnic (BME) orchestra. Since their
spotlight as compared with her chamber gratifyingly generous provision of repeats, previous recording (also for Signum and
companions. The Eroica Quartet and not only in sonata second halves but also also including Sibelius – 9/17) they have
friends took on this early version of the in minuet returns. Woodwind come into clearly improved greatly on their ensemble
Octet to launch the Resonus label in 2011 their own thanks to finely judged balances playing and overall presence. And they still
in download-only format, so it is a and sympathetic engineering, not only radiate dedication and energy. The hurdle
worthwhile exercise making Octet Mk I in solo moments but also in ensemble, to cross now is that there are times when
available on disc. whistling like a whirlwind in their unison their absorption with the technicalities of
Does the portamento become something commentaries on the strenuous Sturm und ensemble looms larger than the joy of
of an issue? On first hearing, it may make Drang of the G minor. actual music-making.
one a little seasick but the ear soon adjusts, Both performances have about them a This is the case, for example, with the
so closely woven is the style into the most satisfying sense of rightness. Nothing third movement of the Sibelius, where their
character of the music and this particular sticks out or strikes one as odd but neither supersonic tempo is all well and good but
player. All the same, there’s a reason we is there any sense of routine, with the the expressive imperative is hard to detect.
don’t (usually) do it this way any more. orchestra audibly on its toes throughout. (Don’t be misled by the booklet stating that
Gone, for example, is the cut-crystal A recent recording this one perhaps most the movement lasts over 12 minutes; that’s
accuracy of the concerto’s finale, in favour closely resembles, then, is the Scottish just a mistake in the track division, which
of a rather more ‘skaty’ approach to its Chamber Orchestra with Mackerras: has been placed in the middle of the finale.)
filigree. But the music’s sheer élan is barely similarly considered from a vantage point Otherwise Roderick Cox’s tempos fall

42 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


Debussy
Photos D.R.

2 new releases
Isabelle Faust
Suite bergamasque Magali Mosnier
Works for piano Alexander Melnikov
Jean-Guihen Queyras
HMM 902309
Javier Perianes
Tanguy de Williencourt
The three sonatas Antoine Tamestit
HMM 902303 Xavier de Maistre
Nikolai Lugansky

harmoniamundi.com
ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

somewhere between Robert Kajanus’s operating at more inspired capacity, tossing volume of their survey of Strauss
1930 reference recording (Koch Legacy) out runs, leaps and octave surges to effortless orchestral works. In doing so, they
and that of Barbirolli (EMI – another effect. Järvi and his musicians clearly enjoy also reach two of the composer’s greatest
reference, for its passionate humanism). the music’s rapid-fire interplay between works in the genre that he made his own,
But, overall, the emotional picture is still soloist and ensemble. Yet despite strong the tone poem. It makes for a well-filled
somewhat monochrome. orchestral support and lovingly phrased programme that matches the generosity
Similarly with Rachmaninov. Gerard woodwind-playing, the central Andante and warmth that increasingly defines the
Aimontche’s undoubted virtuoso command falls slightly flat. Here is where the ability series – matched by Oehms’s rounded
and the orchestra’s commendable to shape long cantabile lines and achieve and pleasing engineering.
responsiveness fall short when it comes a genuine singing legato is crucial, and This means admittedly that in Also
to dramatic tension, dreaminess and Shelest frankly does not sustain the lyrical sprach Zarathustra one shouldn’t expect
generosity, qualities that are found in sections with the transparency, textural the sort of widescreen extravagance of
super-abundance from Lazar Berman with variety and colour that one hears from some recordings; nor is the work treated
Abbado (Sony, 6/77), among others. the veteran Shura Cherkassky. as a showpiece. Weigle is a patient
To bring in another drastic comparison, A colleague characterised the Caprice russe Straussian, his eye always on the bigger
the Chineke! Orchestra has yet to find the as ‘Rubinstein wanting to be Saint-Saëns’. prize of symphonic coherence. You’ll
special musical quality to go with its back And why not? After all, the composers were hear more thrilling opening sunrises
story, in the way that the Simón Bolívar friends and colleagues, and what’s wrong elsewhere, as well as more biting and
Orchestra and Dudamel so spectacularly with interweaving three memorable themes incisive violins and general virtuosity.
did. Maybe when it shifts its attention to into a fantasy full of pianistic glitter, even if Weigle also arguably lets the tension
BME composers, as promised, there will much of it rambles with padding? Much as flag a little at times – such as at fig 8,
be fewer invidious comparisons and more I appreciate the full-bodied eloquence of a minute or so into ‘Das Grablied’
chance for their light to shine. Michelle Assay Joseph Banowetz’s Marco Polo recording, (track 5). But few performances build up
Shelest proves more nuanced and incisive the textures of ‘Von den Hinterweltlern’
Rubinstein all round. Listen to the bravura sweep of her with such eloquence and patience, while
Piano Concerto No 4, Op 70. long cadenza leading into her heel-kicking Weigle’s gently lilting way with the
Caprice russe, Op 102 treatment of the Scherzando, and the ‘Tanzlied’ grows to the sort of
Anna Shelest pf The Orchestra Now / Neeme Järvi orchestra’s corresponding élan; a zestier climaxes – with cultivated, rounded
Sorel F SCCD013 (51’ • DDD) option compared to the heavier-gaited horns soaring aloft – that really warm
Recorded live at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Centaur version with pianist Grigorios the cockles. The final minutes of
Rose Theater, New York, October 15, 2017 Zamparas. If you want a darker, more ‘Nachtwandlerlied’, with fine work
serious Caprice russe, stick with Banowetz, but from the solo strings in particular,
the more extroverted Shelest/Järvi seems are beautifully done.
more in keeping with the work’s blatant The performance of Don Quixote is,
A one-time concert flashiness. However, Hamelin’s Rubinstein if anything, even finer. It’s helped by
staple, Anton Fourth remains the current sonic and supremely expressive and – ultimately –
Rubinstein’s Fourth interpretative point of reference, seconded moving cello-playing from the young
Piano Concerto by the steely brilliance of the Raekallio/ Frankfurt-born cellist Isang Enders.
virtually disappeared from the repertoire in Grin release from Ondine. Jed Distler Both he and viola player Thomas Rössel
the West by the mid-20th century. While Piano Concerto No 4 – selected comparisons: (the orchestra’s principal) blend
the music isn’t likely to regain immense Raekallio, Tampere PO, Grin (2/95) (ONDI) ODE818-2 beautifully into the orchestral picture,
popularity, its fortunes have nevertheless Cherkassky, RPO, Ashkenazy (3/96) (DECC) 448 063-2DH stepping out with plenty of character
been revived through a number of modern- Hamelin, BBC Scottish SO, Stern for the longer solo passages.
day recordings. The latest contender was (10/05) (HYPE) CDA67508 Rössel is expressive and garrulous.
recorded live in New York, with the pianist Caprice russe – selected comparisons: His playing is especially delicious early
Anna Shelest and Neeme Järvi leading Banowetz, Czecho-Slovak St SO, Stankovsky on in the chatty Variation 3, which
Leon Botstein’s The Orchestra Now. (MARC) 8 223382 grows irresistibly in its lyricism. Here as
The conductor launches into the first- Zamparas, Martin≤ PO, Mitchell (CENT) CRC3032 elsewhere Enders plays superbly, singing
movement introduction at a faster than out his melodies while being vividly
usual clip, while Shelest sails through R Strauss alive to the descriptive writing –
her introductory cadenza with bracing Also sprach Zarathustra, Op 30. I particularly like the way he wrings
confidence and not a single splinter or Don Quixote, Op 35a out each last drop from his sodden
vagary in those massive chords. Her a
Isang Enders vc Thomas Rössel va Frankfurt pizzicatos at the close of Var 8. The
forward-moving phrasing and flexibility Museum and Opera Orchestra / Sebastian Weigle orchestral solos are very fine, too, and
are exactly what this burly music demands, Oehms F OC893 (78’ • DDD) Weigle is expert, as before, in weaving
even though her passages with descending Recorded live at the Alte Oper, Frankfurt, it all into a compelling whole, while
double notes lack Marc-André Hamelin’s March 18 & 19, 2018 delivering a death scene that is full
supple evenness. The pianist’s tone notably of feeling and pathos.
opens up in the cadenza, where even a Bigger Straussian thrills are to
home listener gets a sense of how her be found elsewhere, as are bigger
melodic projection extends out towards Sebastian Weigle characters embodying Don Quixote, but
the venue’s proverbial peanut gallery. and his Frankfurt this is another highly persuasive release
If anything, the tumultuous finale orchestra here in a series built on the firmest musical
showcases Shelest’s power and agility reach the sixth foundations. Hugo Shirley

44 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


NEW RELEASE

LAWO CLASSICS
www.lawoclassics.com

LWC1160

ALEXANDER SCRIABIN
SYMPHONY NO. 1, OP. 26
PROMETHEUS: THE POEM OF FIRE, OP. 60
Vasily Petrenko
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Kirill Gerstein — piano

Once again pairing the winning combination


of Gramophone’s 2017 ‘Artist of the Year’
Vasily Petrenko, the Oslo Philharmonic and
pianist Kirill Gerstein together, LAWO Classics
is delighted to present the last instalment of
their critically acclaimed Scriabin Series.

Release date 28th September

“Gerstein and Petrenko are outstanding…” “This is a highly recommendable version


The Arts Desk on of the concerto…”
Scriabin Symphony No 2 (LWC1139) Musicweb International on
Scriabin’s Symphony No 2 (LWC1139)
“Kirill Gerstein is just the sort of ‘thinking pianist’
to take it on [Scriabin’s Piano Concerto] and he does a “An excellent disc.”
terrific job, and Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Phil International Piano Magazine on
are highly sympathetic partners.” Scriabin’s Symphony No 2 (LWC1139)

Gramophone Magazine on
Scriabin’s Piano Concerto (LWC1139)

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ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Consistent intensity: Anne Akiko Meyers pays tribute to various composers with whom her career has been associated, from Pärt to Corigliano – see review on page 49

Tinoco depth is the cross-fading of instrumental pursues a triadic chaconne-like figure


a
The Blue Voice of the Water . Cello Concerto . b
sounds. The work’s opening section deftly in extended tonality; trumpet adds jazzy
Frislandc. Before Spring: A Tribute to ‘The Rite’d melds the sounds of piano cluster, clarinet, effects and the layering of sound strata
b
Filipe Quaresma vc aGulbenkian Orchestra / cymbal and strings; the resultant orchestral achieves a dreamlike, monumental effect.
Susanna Mälkki; dPorto Casa da Música aggregate recalls Ligeti without the atonal Before Spring: A Tribute to ‘The Rite’,
Symphony Orchestra / Martin André; bPortuguese harshness and gives the impression of light meanwhile, homes in on small moments
Symphony Orchestra / Pedro Neves; cSeattle glimpsed from far underwater. Indeed, such in Stravinsky’s score, expanding them into
Symphony Orchestra / Ludovic Morlot is the score’s restraint and limned clarity new vistas in Tinoco’s characteristic style.
Odradek F ODRCD365 (61’ • DDD) (matched by the Gulbenkian Orchestra’s Liam Cagney
Recorded live at cBenaroya Hall, Seattle, June 6, sensitive performance) that at times one
2014; aGulbenkian Auditorium, Lisbon, February 25 almost feels one is listening to a chamber Vaughan Williams
& 26, 2016; bCentro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, orchestra. Lucid engineering allows us to A Sea Symphony (Symphony No 1)a.
February 19, 2017; dSala Suggia, Casa da Música, appreciate the colouristic detail in full. Darest thou now, O soul
Porto, May 13, 2017 Tinoco uses an extended tonality without a
Elizabeth Llewellyn sop aMarcus Farnsworth bar
recourse to over-familiar tropes or empty BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra /
bombast. The Cello Concerto opens with Martyn Brabbins
a falling minor third figure, distorted, as in Hyperion F CDA68245 (71’ • DDD • T)
Anyone who has spent water’s ripples, by layered pianissimo string
time on the Algarve chords. The cello, when it enters, lyrically
knows how rich and expands upon this material. Midway
varied its maritime life through the movement, a descending Martyn Brabbins
is. In expanding upon his guiding metaphor scalar theme enters in the winds, gradually follows up his
P H O T O G R A P H Y: VA N E S S A B R I C E N O - S C H E R Z E R

for this collection of recent orchestral spreading outwards to take over the musical outstandingly lucid
music, the Portuguese composer Luís activity. A subsequent shivering tremolo account of Vaughan
Tinoco notes the orchestra’s allowance for motif provides contrast, before in the final Williams’s A London Symphony in its first
field depth: the way in which, as in the sea, movement eventually taking over. The published edition of 1920 (11/17) with this
a surface instrumental gesture can lead to meditative conclusion features Gamelan no less distinguished traversal of A Sea
fathoms-deep expansion. gongs. Filipe Quaresma shines in particular Symphony. His is a painstakingly prepared
The title composition, The Blue Voice in the second movement’s opening solo. and intelligently paced conception,
of the Water, gives ample display of this. Of the other two works here, Frisland combining a perceptive awareness of the
A frequently used technique for exploring (dedicated to the jazz guitarist Bill Frisell) grander scheme (climaxes are built and

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 47


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Focus
SOME SCINTILLATING SAINT-SAËNS
Jeremy Nicholas is in his element with two recordings of Saint-Saëns’s
effervescent piano concertos, from two exciting and very different pianists
players achieve this
echo effect sitting
next to each other;
Gardner (and,
surprisingly, Oramo –
Hyperion, 11/01)
put the second pair
backstage. I don’t
say it is unsuccessful,
just unnecessary.
The performance
of the concerto
fizzes with
testosterone (offset
by an enchanting
account of the
reflective slow
movement) and
would be a highly
recommendable
front runner were
it not for the final
pages, where the
orchestra obliterates
the brilliant flights
of the soloist. To
Refinement and Gallic exuberance: Bertrand Chamayou excels in Saint-Saëns’s concertos and rarely heard solo pieces hear what Saint-Saëns
wrote (and in all the
Saint-Saëns It is perhaps unfortunate that I began my movements of all five of his concertos),
Piano Concertos – No 1, Op 17; listening with the second work on Louis turn to Jean-Marie Darré and Louis
No 2, Op 22; No 4, Op 44 Lortie’s disc, the G minor Concerto Forestier, though of course in far less
Louis Lortie pf (No 2), which opens with a passage for opulent late-1950s mono sound.
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Edward Gardner solo piano. I found the tone and No such niggles obtain in the
Chandos F CHAN20031 (71’ • DDD) placement of the soloist not immediately Fourth Concerto, which goes splendidly
alluring, in fact slightly disconcerting. throughout in all departments. In fact,
Saint-Saëns The ears had to adjust – unusual for a the only thing missing is one ingredient
a
Piano Concertos – No 2, Op 22; No 5, Chandos concerto recording – which they common to both Darré/Forestier and
‘Egyptian’, Op 103. Allegro appassionato, soon did, with the realisation that Louis Cortot/Munch (1935, surely one of the
Op 70. Mazurka No 3, Op 66. Valse Lortie had decided throughout to great concerto recordings), and that is
nonchalante, Op 110. Six Études, Op 52 – No 2, dominate or at least match his conductor’s charm. A final complaint: why does the
pour l’indépendance des doigts; No 6, En forthright accompaniment. This is not conductor get bigger billing than the
forme de valse. Six Études, Op 111 – No 1, the most elegant recording of Saint- soloist on the Chandos CD cover?
Tierces majeures et mineures; No 4, Les Saëns’s Second Concerto but it is bold Obviously this is a collaborative venture
cloches de Las Palmas and fiery, with the frisson of a but ultimately it is the pianist who is the
Bertrand Chamayou pf live performance. star in a piano concerto recording and
a
French National Orchestra / Emmanuel Krivine Small, unimportant things draw who should get at least equal billing.
Erato F 9029 56342-6; F 6 9029 56342-2 attention to themselves, like the hard The G minor Concerto opens
(78’ • DDD) mallets used by the timp player in the Bertrand Chamayou’s disc. Good as
Scherzo. Likewise, the opening of the the Lortie/Gardner account is, it simply
exuberant and underrated First Concerto. does not compare in detail, refinement
This has two horns playing mp the or sheer Gallic exuberance. In fact,
triplet figure that provides the first I would go as far as placing Chamayou
subject answered by two (chromatic) and Krivine at or near the top of the
horns playing the same phrase pp and myriad recordings currently available.
sons bouchés (ie stopped). Usually, the Let me count the ways. A small detail –

48 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

resolved with unerring authority),


but one which Saint-Saëns took the exemplary attention to detail and mastery
trouble to carefully notate – is in the of texture (I don’t think I’ve ever heard the
opening (unbarred) piano solo. Amid dusky outer portions of the slow movement You can rely on
the 32nd-note flurries is a series of left sound more magically luminous). Anne Akiko Meyers
hand tenutos, hardly noticed by Lortie Throughout, the BBC Symphony Chorus to deliver something
but wittily pointed by Chamayou, and Orchestra respond with thrilling more than a violin
whose whole approach is less fussy and accomplishment and unflagging concerto with fill-ups, as this latest
coloured by a deliciously lucid tone. enthusiasm, the Scherzo (precisely Allegro concept album proves. Eight works, six
His pianissimo-leggiero and jeu perlé brillante as marked) especially exhilarating composers, among whom the odd one out
playing are quite masterly, shown at in its fiery thrust and giddy coordination. in every respect is Maurice Ravel: the only
his best in the Scherzo (with a more Both Elizabeth Llewellyn and Marcus figure who hasn’t been directly involved
discreet and collegial timpanist) in Farnsworth sing with attractively fresh in Meyers’s career. Right in the middle
which the second subject is far removed timbre and impeccable enunciation, of a zenned-out album, sitting between
from Lortie’s galumphing farmer and their memorably unforced contribution Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel and a lullaby
more a light-footed dancing master. reminding me somewhat of Sheila by John Corigliano, Ravel’s gypsy romp
The finale zips along with exemplary Armstrong and John Carol Case on Adrian Tzigane constitutes an almighty bump
clarity – listen to the precision of Boult’s stereo recording (EMI/Warner, in the road.
those trills! – and ends in spine- 12/68); listen from 14'37" in the finale Meyers has recorded the piece before
tingling exultation. (‘O soul thou pleasest me, I thee’) to hear but here we have a version featuring Jakub
The Egyptian Concerto (No 5) them at their intimate best – and how Ciupiński’s digital re-creation of the
is hardly less successful. Stephen skilfully Brabbins negotiates the luthéal, the piano add-on Ravel indicated
Hough is perhaps marginally more magnificent pages which follow (that might be used. That sounds convincing
atmospheric in the slow movement towering tutti at ‘Sail forth – steer for the and fascinating, but Meyers’s own gypsy
and the greater tone painter of the deep waters only’ will have you gasping in fire doesn’t have the abandon of some of
two, but Chamayou never loses sight its exultant impact). Superbly controlled, her recent rivals, Patricia Kopatchinskaja
of the fact that this is a virtuoso piano too, are the work’s awestruck closing included (Alpha, 2/18).
concerto. One can well believe that measures to cap a majestic interpretation I would have ditched Tzigane altogether,
Saint-Saëns found his inspiration for that I can unhesitatingly place in the front because Meyers’s stern, highly controlled
the opening measures of the finale in rank alongside the 1953 Boult (7/94), but variously coloured sound meets every
the pounding of the paddle steamer’s Handley (2/89), Haitink (1/90) and Elder other piece here very well indeed. Her
wheels as it travelled up the Nile. (Hallé, A/15). rapid arpeggio figurations across the
The final octave peroration We get an intriguing bonus in the four strings of the 1741 ex-Vieuxtemps
played pìu mosso makes for a shape of Darest thou now, O soul, just three Guarneri del Gesù are firm and consistent,
thrilling conclusion. minutes in duration and another setting of her tone strong without being sweet
Chamayou follows the two concertos words from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass for or glossy. It works a treat in Glass’s
with seven well-chosen solos, among unison chorus and string orchestra dating Metamorphosis II (the arrangement is by
them the Étude en forme de valse. I can from 1925. The text will be familiar to Michael Riesman) and for the ritornellos in
safely say that this is the most many from Toward the Unknown Region Pärt’s Fratres. Meyers adopts a fixed colour
scintillating account I have heard other (which gave the composer one of his for each phase of the latter, each holding
than Alfred Cortot’s celebrated 1931 earliest successes at the 1907 Leeds you in its gaze. From the figurations at
recording – it’s that good – and shows Festival), and the present arrangement 6'00" she strikes every note bang in its
a clean pair of heels to the cautious (attributed to ‘WH’ on the manuscript) centre point. Each bow stroke has the
Piers Lane on Hyperion’s set of all may conceivably be the work of his good same, consistent level of intensity.
Saint-Saëns’s études. Indeed, Chamayou friend William Henry Hadow (1859-1937), That said, Corigliano’s Lullaby, written
is the more alive of the two in the three for whose 1931 book English Music for Meyer’s baby daughter, might have
other études he plays, one of which Vaughan Williams penned an introduction. benefited from less contact and a more
is the rarely heard Les cloches de Las Resplendently engineered by Simon innocent sound. It’s a pretty piece but
Palmas (No 4 of the Six Études, Op 111). Eadon at Blackheath Concert Halls, this is, the two original scores by Ciupiński are
Listen at the 1'57" mark: have church quite simply, a release not be missed – and more worthy successors to Pärt’s, each
bells calling the faithful to prayer ever fingers crossed for the remaining seven disciplined and fertile. Initially, Lauridsen’s
been more uncannily imitated on the RVW symphonies from Brabbins and own concertante arrangement of
piano by any composer? Talking of Hyperion. Andrew Achenbach O magnum mysterium reveals how much
whom, the Mazurka No 3 and Valse the piece owes to the open-prairie sound
nonchalante, Op 110, included here, ‘Mirror in Mirror’ of Copland and others, but the cymbal-
must have been particular favourites strewn anti-crescendos are straight out
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A R C O B O R G G R E V E

Ciupiński Edo Lullabya. Wreck of the Umbriaa


of his as he himself made a piano roll Corigliano Lullaby for Natalieb Glass of the Hollywood cheesemonger’s
of the former in 1915 and a shellac Metamorphosis IIb Lauridsen O magnum toolkit and the piece becomes something
recording of the latter in 1904. It mysteriumc Pärt Fratresb. Spiegel im Spiegelb more sickly than a ‘quiet song of profound
is with this that Chamayou (albeit Ravel Tziganed inner joy’ (the composer’s description
far more nonchalantly than Anne Akiko Meyers vn bAkira Eguchi pf of the original motet). Maybe that’s OK
Saint-Saëns) concludes this d
Elizabeth Pridgen kybd adJakub Ciupiński elecs given the market. And, frankly, I struggle
most desirable disc. c
Philharmonic Orchestra / Kristjan Järvi more with the shock of Tzigane.
Avie F AV2386 (64’ • DDD) Andrew Mellor

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 49


THE MUSICIAN AND THE SCORE

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake


Vladimir Jurowski tells Sarah Kirkup why we should honour the composer’s original intentions

V
ladimir Jurowski has just stepped off a plane and is,
by his own admission, ‘quite tired’. But as we ensconce
ourselves in an office at the Royal Opera House and start
immersing ourselves in the multiples scores of Swan Lake that
have been provided for us, he becomes increasingly animated.
This music means a great deal to the Russian conductor:
he recalls, as a child, seeing his father Mikhail conducting
Burmeister’s 1953 version at the Stanislavsky Theatre (he also
remembers growing up listening to the Soviet recordings by
Rozhdestvensky and Svetlanov). But in the late ’80s, Jurowski’s
view of the ballet changed forever when he saw it at Berlin’s
Komische Oper in a re-choreographed version by Tom Schilling
that revisited the original 1877 score. ‘Since then, I’ve been
corrupted by the idea that this is the only way to perform
Swan Lake,’ Jurowski says. Thus, it is to this original score that
he has returned for his new Pentatone recording with the State Swan Lake was recorded live in concert, but additional takes took another week
Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’.
We know from one of Tchaikovsky’s letters that by August number at all. Jurowski eventually tracks down online an
1875 he had started working on the music, while a note in the equivalent version to the edition he used (the Soviet 1977
autograph score reveals that he completed it in April 1876. Muzyka edition, in consultation with the original Jurgenson)
And we know that the ballet was premiered in Moscow on and discovers what he’s looking for. ‘Here it is!’ he exclaims.
February 20, 1877, with choreography by Julius Reisinger. ‘And it’s interpolated where it should be – in Act 3, after the
Even today, the premiere is recalled as being ‘disastrous’, Danse hongroise Czárdás and before the Danse espagnole.’
although in fact the ballet ran for 41 performances across That Jurowski should want to follow a composer’s
three productions in six years (and Tchaikovsky fared better intentions is understandable. But to state, as he does in the
than Reisinger, for whom Swan Lake was the final nail in the CD booklet-note, that ‘it’s almost impossible to appreciate the
Czech choreographer’s coffin). But it was the St Petersburg music of the original unless you perform it in a concert where
revival of 1895 (completed after Tchaikovsky’s death), with there’s no need to adapt to the dance’ is, to any balletomane,
choreography by Petipa and Ivanov, that prevailed. It didn’t alarming. When I tentatively point this out to him, though,
seem to matter that, to reflect a new libretto by Modeste he argues his point convincingly. ‘With the greatest respect to
Tchaikovsky, the score had been substantially revised (a process those who were inventing the original choreography, they
instigated by Petipa and implemented by his music director, the simply weren’t musical enough. And I’m yet to see a properly
composer Riccardo Drigo): repeats were jettisoned; three piano radical rethinking of Swan Lake in the theatre which goes
pieces from his Op 72, orchestrated by Drigo, were added; and along with this [he raps the autograph score with his knuckle].’
whole numbers were cut or repositioned. ‘Chopping up the Can he give me some examples of where the music is
order is nonsense,’ says Jurowski. ‘The original score reveals this hampered by the dance? He turns to the famous Dance of the
symphonic form of development where, through a sequence of Cygnets in Act 2, No 13 – IV. ‘Look at this,’ he says. ‘With
keys, everything is connected. The 1895 version destroyed that.’ the key – F sharp minor – and the style of writing, the first
In front of us, we have the 1877 and 1895 versions (edited by thing that comes to mind is Schubert’s Moment musicale No 3
Jurgenson) and the Simpson-edited Kalmus version adapted for [he hums the theme briskly – the similarity is undeniable].
Liam Scarlett’s recent Royal Ballet production. There’s also a ‘But that’s not the speed you hear it performed, even though
copy of the autograph score bearing Tchaikovsky’s handwritten it’s marked Allegro moderato – because it’s impossible to dance
notes (or ‘script’ – Jurowski’s term) in French describing the it at that speed. Quite simply, the choreographer got it wrong.’
action. But Jurowski isn’t happy. Where’s the Russian Dance? The conductor turns to the Pas de deux – IV, Coda in Act 1,
This virtuoso piece for violin and orchestra was composed usually performed these days in Act 3 and the vehicle for
by Tchaikovsky at the behest of Reisinger, after the score had Odile’s famed 32 fouetté turns. There are no indications that
already been completed. The composer promptly obliged, and the music should slow down then accelerate prior to the repeat
it was performed by Pelagia Karpakova (who danced Odette) of the opening theme, yet that has become the tradition. But,
at the premiere. ‘Our intention was to record the 1877 version Jurowski says, ‘if it’s in one tempo, as written, you appreciate
but with the addition of this number,’ says Jurowski. ‘If you the full sweep of this vile energy that pervades the ballet.’
look here’ – he finds the Index pages to both the 1877 and The undercurrent of evil (the plot ultimately sees Rothbart
1895 scores – ‘you’ll see an asterisk with a page number for a tricking the Prince into betraying Odette, consigning her to
supplementary number.’ Taking each score in turn, we locate death) is fundamental to Jurowski’s reading of the score, as are
the page in question – but the Russian Dance isn’t there. As the psychological motives of the characters. Take Odette, he
for the Kalmus version, there’s no mention of a supplementary says. He points to Act 2, No 13: Danse des cygnes – V, and to

50 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


THE MUSICIAN AND THE SCORE
the love duet between violin and cello. But what’s this? The
gently unfolding final bars in 6/8 that we’re used to hearing as
a trembling Odette finally yields to Prince Siegfried were not,
it seems, Tchaikovsky’s preferred ending. An alternative Richard Strauss
concluding passage – comprising jaunty, staccato rhythms in
2/4 – appears first, which has then been struck through.
‘He was following the same principle as Verdi,’ Jurowski says.
‘After a lyrical arioso you have to have a cabaletta. But the
ballet world would have said, “You can’t finish a pas d’action
like that”.’ It goes without saying that Jurowski has recorded OUT
the original ending – not least because it takes us deeper NOW!
into Odette’s emotional world. ‘This is the first time she has
opened up to someone,’ he says, ‘and it’s only natural that
the old defence reaction would come back again at the end.’
In his exploration of the subconscious, Tchaikovsky
was ‘miles ahead of his time’, says Jurowski. But there are
examples of other innovations, too – such as the first meeting
of the Prince and Odette in Act 2 (No 11: Scène) which, with
its question-and-answer dialogue, signifies ‘the first recitative
Aber der
to be composed in ballet’. Then there’s the passage of disguised
Russian Orthodox choral music in the Entr’acte opening Act 4,
which is ‘like a Requiem aeternam spoken across the two
Richtige...
lovers’. The conductor also stresses how Tchaikovsky uses the
leitmotif in Swan Lake ‘to create a recognisable complexus of
thematic material which is associated with certain characters Violin Concerto
or situations’. The oboe theme representing Odette is the most Miniatures
obvious example, I say – but Jurowski isn’t sure it’s about Odette
at all. ‘It’s a fantasy, an ideal. The piece is not about love but
the impossibility of love. And this echoes Tchaikovsky’s personal
life, his homosexuality: he was close to suicide in those years.’
Arabella Steinbacher
‘Tchaikovsky uses repeats to accumulate
nervous energy; they’re there for a reason’ WDR Symphony Orchestra
Lawrence Foster
We turn to the music at the end of Act 1 (No 9: Finale)
where the oboe plays that plaintive theme accompanied by
rippling harp figurations. ‘You get to the climax and it’s
dominated by flutes, clarinets, bassoons and only two horns,’
Jurowski says, singing the well-known tune – ‘Paaa, pa pa pa
RECENT RELEASES
pa paaa … And then, at the top of Act 2 [No 10: Scène], it’s
exactly the same music …’ [he sings again] ‘… and here comes
the climax …’ [he crescendos] ‘… but now the winds become
filling voices and we have four horns, blowing fortissimo.
From now on, the theme only ever appears with four horns.’
What does this mean? ‘Fate,’ he says simply. But people view
this as a romantic love story, I point out. ‘Then they’re not
listening properly,’ Jurowski retorts. ‘It’s in B minor, the same
as the Sixth Symphony and the opening of The Queen of Spades
– which even has the same B minor triad starting with a falling PTC 5186 625 PTC 5186 536
Fantasies, Rhapsodies
fifth. Without a doubt, it’s suggesting a sinister presence.’ Britten & Hindemith
& Daydreams
Violin Concertos
We talk again about the 1895 cuts and the damage they Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin Orchestre Philharmonie
caused – even those seemingly innocuous ones involving Vladimir Jurowski de Monte-Carlo
Lawrence Foster
repeats. ‘We know from his operas and symphonies that
Tchaikovsky accumulates nervous energy by repeating the
P H OTO G R A P H Y: J E A N - M A R I E G E I J S E N

same thing over and over,’ Jurowski says. ‘The repeats are
there for a reason.’ But, I venture, without the cuts perhaps
the ballet would have never assumed its place in the repertory.
‘I think we’re missing the point if we’re after some kind of www.pentatonemusic.com
elegant entertainment,’ Jurowski counters. ‘If you expect this
music to shake you, to change your world, you should be Distributed
prepared for a much more aggressive, abrasive experience.’ And in all good record shops
in the UK by

Vladimir Jurowski’s Swan Lake will be reviewed in the next issue

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 51


Chamber
Richard Bratby listens to premiere Charlotte Gardner enjoys Vivaldi
recordings of Stanford quartets: from cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras:
‘This must surely be the most significant ‘The sense of intimacy and immediacy is mostly
quartet cycle by any British composer down to Queyras’s easy, loving familiarity with
before Frank Bridge’ REVIEW ON PAGE 57 this repertoire’ REVIEW ON PAGE 58

Boccherini by Charles Riché with Boccherini’s violin- also have a salutary effect, as it does in that
‘Sonate per il violoncello, Vol 2’ high writing in mind, his many golden same sonata’s opening bars, where rolling
Sonatas – G1; G2; G5; G12; G13 moments include 2'34" to 3'21" in No 5’s the chords adds subtle momentum that
Bruno Cocset vc Les Basses Réunies Largo, where first you have the soft-focus allows for a relaxed tempo yet still makes
Alpha F ALPHA409 (67’ • DDD) sweetness of his double-stopping, then the sense of Brahms’s Vivace ma non troppo
whistle-clean exuberance of his final top marking. Note, too, the duo’s flexible
swoop. Or look to the opening of No 12’s shaping here; they find the space to be free
Allegro moderato for a moment when his between the beats, as it were, and the result
It’s such a very long cantabile phrasing and his instrument’s is intoxicatingly improvisatory. Op 100 also
time since the French sonorous middle registers shine. begins magically, the phrases surging and
baroque cellist Bruno So what I want to know now is: will sighing to convey a feeling of wide-eyed,
Cocset brought out there be a Volume 3? Charlotte Gardner ardent expectation.
his first excellent Boccherini album – a These practices can be a double-edged
2004 recording featuring Sonatas Nos 4, 17 Brahms sword, however. Take the Adagio of
and 23 alongside the second and seventh Three Violin Sonatas. ‘FAE’ Scherzo, WoO2 Op 108, where the combination of
Concertos (3/06) – that this latest offering Leila Schayegh vn Jan Schultsz pf Schayegh’s portamento and Schultsz’s
of five further sonatas feels far more like Glossa F GCD924201 (70’ • DDD) arpeggiation – both applied lavishly, in
a surprise gift than it does a standard this case – gives off a strong, wholly
Volume 2. The album is certainly a unnecessary whiff of sentimentality.
continuation, though, most especially And their rhythmic freedom and flexibility
because it sees Cocset develop an These interpretations of tempo wreaks havoc in the outer
approach he brought to that previous of the Brahms violin movements of Op 108, chopping up the
disc’s Sonata No 7, when he gave its sonatas delve far phrases, slackening tension and rendering
bass-line accompaniment not to a second more deeply into the structures episodic.
cello as usual but instead to a guitar, his ‘historically informed performance Yet this is a satisfying disc nonetheless.
stance being that there’s no reason why practice’ than any period-instrument The instruments’ mellow sounds are
Boccherini mightn’t also have had other recording I’ve heard. Beyond the absolutely lovely, every one of Schayegh
instruments in mind, especially given instruments themselves (in this case a and Schultsz’s tempos are spot on, and
the range of occasions he may have modern copy of a ‘Romantic’ violin and if I disagree with a few interpretative
performed at during his youthful an 1879 Viennese piano by Streicher) decisions, their expressive intentions
concert tours of the 1760s. and the judicious use of vibrato, pianist are never in doubt. Andrew Farach-Colton
So, while for No 5 in G and No 13 Jan Schultsz arpeggiates his part profusely,
in A Cocset is joined simply by the violinist Leila Schayegh employs generous Bray
cellist Emmanuel Jacques, for sombre and portamento and both musicians take an ‘Chamber and Solo Works’
dramatic No 2 in C minor his partner is the unusually flexible approach to rhythm Beyonda. Invisible Citiesb. On the Other Shorec.
fortepianist Maude Gratton on a wooden- and tempo. The rationale for these The Sun was Chasing Venusd. Zuständee
hammered instrument in vogue during this interpretative decisions is clearly and b
Huw Watkins pf dAmaryllis Quartet;
period in Italy. No 1 in F meanwhile offers compellingly detailed in extensive e
Mariani Piano Quartet (Gerhard Vielhaber pf
the standard mid-18th-century continuo notes by Clive Brown (who co-edited a
Philipp Bohnen vn bdBarbara Buntrock va
template, Cocset and Jacques now joined the Bärenreiter edition used here) c
Peter-Philipp Staemmler vc)
by harpsichordist Bertrand Cuiller. Perhaps and Schayegh. Nimbus Alliance F NI6371 (56’ • DDD)
most enjoyable of all, though, is Sonata There’s no doubt in my mind that
No 12, the disc’s most ‘classical’ galant Brahms expected string players to use
arrangement, for which Gratton rejoins portamento, and that it’s a significant
Cocset and Jacques on a far fuller-toned expressive enhancement when applied An earlier disc devoted
piano with leather-covered hammers. thoughtfully, as it is here, with a few to Charlotte Bray
Needless to say, this is all fantastically exceptions. Take the violin’s soaring (1/15) has proved one
thoughtful ‘authentic’ ear candy for those melody in the middle of Op 78’s finale, of the most notable in
who like a bit of spice in their HIP, and for example (listen starting at 4'11"), NMC’s Debut series and this new release
Cocset himself is the icing on the cake. where Schayegh slides as a singer might of chamber works leaves no less favourable
Playing an instrument specially constructed do naturally. Schultsz’s arpeggiation can an impression.

52 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS

Bruno Cocset plays Boccherini Cello Sonatas with sweetness and exuberance

The five pieces (written during 2011-16) for violin and cello, no less well realised. of Mendelssohn quartets. They apply
are linked by a sense of distance, whether Sound is full-bodied and immediate, with judicious portamento as they mould the
physical or emotional – not least Zustände the booklet note deftly combining the opening bars of Op 12’s Adagio non troppo,
(‘States’) for piano quartet, its three composer’s observations and comments by while the following Allegro non tardante
movements evoking the varied aura of the artists. A worthy follow-up for Bray and has a suppleness that makes it sound
glaciers as they split, float and emerge as the latest in a valuable series which is being constantly new.
ice fields, the music alternately calm and made possible by the Richard Thomas In the Doric’s Canzonetta, the faster
plangent. The subject of Invisible Cities may Foundation. Richard Whitehouse middle section grows organically from the
be urban but a corresponding ‘otherness’ relaxed outer ones, rather than playing up
is evident across its four movements as Mendelssohn the contrasts, as the Tippett Quartet do,
these unfold from the energetic, through ‘String Quartets, Vol 1’ finding an altogether more mischievous
the elegiac and anguished, to a tenuous String Quartets – No 1, Op 12; edge. The slow movement is the first
rapprochement that is tellingly conveyed No 5, Op 44 No 3; No 6, Op 80 violin’s chance to take wing and the
by the disjunctive timbres of viola and Doric Quartet Doric’s Alex Redington duly does, to
piano. No less finely judged in its writing Label F (two discs for the price of one) warmly engaging effect, while the quartet’s
for string quintet is The Sun was Chasing CHAN20122 (87’ • DDD) collective ear for balancing sonorities
Venus, where a game of pursuit – musical constantly illuminates the textures. The
and metaphysical – is related in a single finale gets its energy from the way they
movement whose vividly contrasted phrase the lines, while the Tippett have
sections still evince a cumulative impetus What makes the Doric a more obsessive, one-in-a-bar feel;
as these build to the final evanescing of the Doric? Is it their compared to both of them, the Escher
P H O T O G R A P H Y: E M M A N U E L J A C Q U E S

diaphanous textures, in a potent simile for ability to reveal detail, are a little earthbound.
clouds as they are caught by sunlight. though never at the The Doric’s approach to Op 80 is less
Performances are as adept and perceptive cost of broader spans? Or their elasticity extreme than some – rather than going
as might be expected from such artists as of phrasing, combined with an absolute hell for leather in its first movement they
Barbara Buntrock and Huw Watkins, confidence of ensemble without ever instead draw out detail after detail along
with the Mariani and Amaryllis ensembles seeming overly obsessed with it? the way. If you want sforzando accents that
equally committed. The three main works All the traits that characterise their rip through the music, then the Elias are
are separated by short yet eventful pieces playing are to be found in this first volume still the ones to go for, but for something

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 53


CHAMBER REVIEWS

Deeply absorbing: the Doric Quartet start a new project to record the string quartets of Mendelssohn

less searing, try this. The Elias continue who impressed me, are faster here but
their fraught agenda through the second both groups bring Mendelssohn’s plangent
movement, the Tippett also impressive writing to life. All sadness is banished in
here in their desperate energy. But the the rushing finale – the Parker bring to In honour
Doric see it as a heavier, slower scherzo this a fearless energy but the Doric are of William of
and I’m not entirely convinced. The slow just as mesmeric, displaying an unerring Ockham’s famous
movement finds the Tippett the most ability to draw out what’s important dictum that the
Classical, the Ebène most obviously from Mendelssohn’s frenetic textures. simplest solution tends to be the correct
Romantic in their ardency. The Doric An impressive new addition to the one, the eighth and final movement of
are closer to the Classical end of things, Mendelssohn discography. Harriet Smith Poul Ruders’s suite Occam’s Razor (2013) is,
though a tremulously delicate vibrato String Quartets Nos 1 & 6 – selected comparison: in the composer’s own words, ‘the simplest
gives their Adagio a touching fragility. Tippett Qt (8/18) (SOMM) SOMMCD0182 music I’ve ever and am likely ever to
Again, the Doric’s finale is moderate in String Quartet No 1 – selected comparison: compose’. There is plenty of complexity
pace – is it really Allegro molto? – though Escher Qt (8/15) (BIS) BIS-SACD1960 in the preceding seven, a character suite
I like the way the fortissimo writing breaks String Quartet No 6 – selected comparisons: for oboe and guitar providing plenty of
in with due drama. But for me, this Elias Qt (5/07R) (ALTO) ALC1303 opportunities for sly, straight-faced
movement demands more intensity, Ebène Qt (4/13) (VIRG/ERAT) 464546-2 humour here for Liang Wang and
something the Ebène and Elias provide String Quartet No 5 – selected comparisons: David Starobin.
in spades. Parker Qt (A/16) (NIMB) NI6327 Starobin, without doubt one of the
If there are some caveats about the Sixth Escher Qt (12/16) (BIS) BIS2160 world’s greatest exponents of the guitar,
P H O T O G R A P H Y: G E R A R D C O L L E T T P H O T O G R A P H Y

Quartet, there are none about the Fifth, the has known Ruders for over 30 years
last of Op 44. The give and take as motifs Ruders and something of that longstanding
are shared between the players in the first ‘New Music with Guitar, Vol 11’ relationship – which has produced
movement is unerring, and here their Air with Changesa. New Rochelle Suiteb. Occam’s many solo pieces, chamber music and
relaxed pace works well, sounding even Razorc. Pages (excs). Schrödinger’s Catd. Three two concertos – is celebrated in this
more inevitable than the Escher. The for Twoe – Cantus firmus II & III enterprising and fascinating release.
Scherzo, initially at a whisper, has energy David Starobin gtr with cLiang Wang ob dAmalia Pages is an open collection of to date
without sounding unduly rushed, while Hall, eMovses Pogossian vns aXiaobo Pu, aYunxiang 13 miniature solo pieces, all written on
the slow movement is deeply absorbing, Fan, aHao Yang gtrs bDaniel Druckman perc a single page, begun in 2008. Each takes a
satisfying and sonorously sad. The Parker, Bridge F BRIDGE9500 (52’ • DDD) specific attribute and illustrates it in music

54 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


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Sacred Music in Santiago 26 or 28 September–2 October 2019
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CHAMBER REVIEWS

of beguiling charm. Six are featured here, is revealed by the inward Zehetmair. In the As for the music, Jeremy Dibble’s
as are two cantus firmuses from Three for Adagio molto the Engegård make much of excellent booklet notes identify several
Two (2016), a model of the expressivity the intensifying dissonances (from 4'40") recognisably Irish traits. But you don’t
possible from the utmost precision. and the way they draw to a quiet close is necessarily hear them as such. The feverish
The 12 canons that comprise nicely judged. intensity of the jig that forms the finale of
Schrödinger’s Cat explore variously the space However, it’s in the Second Quartet – the Quartet No 4 (1906) might equally
between musical precision and expressive the trickiest to bring off effectively – that remind you of Schubert’s Death and the
liberality. The most complex music here, I have the greatest doubts about this new Maiden, just as Stanford’s questioning,
it is the work needing the closest listening. disc. The opening sounds a little rushed, chromatic opening gestures suggest more
Not so the delightfully witty guitar-and- which is not a matter of speed per se but modern developments in Europe. True,
percussion New Rochelle Suite (2003-06), to do with their phrasing and the way they Mendelssohn is the presiding spirit in No 3
written for Starobin and his daughter balance the four instruments; compared to (1896), and there’s a sense of increased
Allegra, and the newest work, Air with them the Elias draw you into Schumann’s clarity and lyricism in No 7 (1919) – a hint
Changes (2018), a beautifully vibrant world in the most naturally conversational of a ‘late style’? Lucid, idiomatic string-
variation set given here in Ruders’s own way. In the variation-form Andante the writing comes as standard throughout.
version for guitar quartet, played by Engegård find a simple songfulness in its But still, the point stands. These are
Starobin with three of his students. The main theme, whereas the Doric and the distinctive, fully achieved works by a
performances throughout are wonderfully Elias bring to it greater emotional nuance. composer with a profoundly serious artistic
vivid and musical, and superbly engineered The flowing second variation doesn’t have purpose. They’re each worth hearing, and
(being recorded in four locations on six the degree of finesse of the Doric, while the the Dante Quartet go at them with red-
occasions across eight years, 2010-18). chordal writing of the Molto più lento that blooded gusto and an energy that’s clearly
Recommended. Guy Rickards follows is again more cleanly dispatched by born from the thrill of discovery. You
the British group. The Scherzo, a real might wish, at times, that they’d let the
Schumann technical minefield, is a tad rough around music breathe a little more freely: these
Three String Quartets, Op 41 the edges too (again, listen to the Elias to aren’t what you’d call ‘lived-in’
Engegård Quartet hear how energy and finesse can coexist performances. Hopefully those will come.
BIS F Í BIS2361 (75’ • DDD/DSD) perfectly naturally), though happily the For now, though, Somm and the Dantes
finale comes off better. But, overall, this have broken important new ground with
new disc doesn’t alter the discographical impressive commitment. Richard Bratby
status quo. Harriet Smith
The Norwegian String Quartets Nos 1-3 – selected comparison: B Tchaikovsky
Engegård Quartet Doric Qt (12/11) (CHAN) CHAN10692 Piano Trioa. Cello Sonatab. Solo Cello Suite
have only recently String Quartets Nos 1 & 3 – selected comparison: Christopher Marwood vc
started programming Zehetmair Qt (6/03) (ECM) 472 169-2 a
Haik Kazazyan vn abOlga Solovieva pf
single-composer discs (they released String Quartet No 1 – selected comparisons: Naxos M 8 573783 (61’ • DDD)
Mozart’s ‘Prussian’ Quartets last year – Elias Qt (10/12) (WIGM) WHLIVE0051
LAWO Classics). The Schumanns are a Schumann Qt (9/18) (BERL) 0301058BC
fascinating and dangerous proposition for String Quartets Nos 2 & 3 – selected comparison:
any quartet. In September I much enjoyed Elias Qt (5/18) (ALPH) ALPHA280 Tchaikovsky’s Piano
the First Quartet in a mixed disc from the Trio in B minor?
Schumann Quartet. The Engegård are Stanford No, not in A minor.
relatively laid-back in the Andante espressivo String Quartets – No 3, Op 64; Nor, indeed, that
introduction and even in the Allegro they No 4, Op 99; No 7, Op 166 Tchaikovsky. Naxos has done well by
give the music plenty of space to breathe. Dante Quartet Boris Tchaikovsky (no relation to Pyotr
The Elias play up the contrasts more, and Somm Céleste F SOMMCD0185 (76’ • DDD) Ilyich), this being the fifth disc dedicated
their introduction is particularly intense, to his music.
with the sparest of vibrato. In the Scherzo – Tchaikovsky was born in 1925 and his
a particular highlight in the Schumann compositional career spanned the second
Quartet’s account – the Engegård sound I think it was George half of the 20th century. He studied at the
a touch deliberate in their speed and Bernard Shaw who first Moscow Conservatory, a pupil of Shebalin,
phrasing, which makes the music unduly remarked that Stanford Shostakovich and Myaskovsky, and his
earthbound. The slow movement is more was at his best when teachers certainly left their mark. The
effective, however, and they choose an apt he forgot to act like a professor and let his Piano Trio which opens the disc was
tempo for the finale, though they don’t Irish roots show through. One achievement composed in 1953 and sounds like a pale
come close to the bounding energy of the of the Dante Quartet’s ongoing Stanford Shostakovich imitation at times, lacking
Doric or the finesse of the Zehetmair. quartet cycle is to show just how wide of some of the intensity or sarcasm that laced
In the Third it is the outer movements the mark these off-the-peg judgements can his teacher’s scores. If not quite the ‘path-
that come off best, the Engegård truly be – even if it’s hardly surprising that they breaking’ composer claimed in Louis
relishing the dancing finale. Though, if persist. All three of the works on this disc Blois’s booklet notes, Tchaikovsky’s
you turn to the recent Elias account, you’re are premiere recordings, an astonishing music is still worth a listen.
frankly in a different league in terms of state of affairs for what must surely be the The Piano Trio is given a persuasive
finesse and responsiveness. The Engegård’s most significant quartet cycle by any British performance by Haik Kazazyan,
second-movement Scherzo is a sunny affair, composer before Frank Bridge. That alone Christopher Marwood and Olga Solovieva.
but how much more emotional complexity makes this disc essential listening. We’re thrown straight into a feisty toccata,

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 57


CHAMBER REVIEWS

an exhilarating opening which largely recordings such as the Haydn concertos too, filling in the filigree textures of
leaves Tchaikovsky with nowhere to (10/04) and the Britten Suites (1/99). He’s ‘La fontaine d’Aréthuse’ with exquisite
go. The piano suffers a little in terms of then strung this with plain gut (rather than grace and underscoring the emotional
recorded balance here, strings dominating wound), and the slightly thicker girth of shifts of ‘Dryades et Pan’ with nicely
the sound picture. Kazazyan moulds the the strings has brought a lovely rounded ambivalent wit.
violin line of the lengthy Aria most warmth and textural catch to his sound. It is a most beautiful performance,
sensitively. The finale – a set of variations – Finally there’s the engineering, which though our insights into the range of
meanders but has its lively moments, with places him relatively far forwards in the Lee’s artistry ultimately come elsewhere.
tight ensemble-playing impressing. balance; but don’t be put off by the intake Stravinsky’s Suite italienne, reworking music
Marwood is firmly at the centre of this of breath you hear in the first few seconds from Pulcinella, is all cool poise apart from
disc, performing the Cello Sonata (1957) of the opening No 5 in E minor, because a shaft of nostalgic regret in the Serenata,
and the Solo Cello Suite (1946), both that’s not a running theme. though Kramer’s playing could do with a
works premiered by the great Mstislav Another nice touch is the way his bit more hardness of edge in places. The
Rostropovich. Like the Piano Trio, the continuo forces vary between sonatas, and real jolt, though, comes with Bartók’s First
Sonata (dedicated to Mieczysław Weinberg) sometimes within the same one. Take No 4 Rhapsody, where there’s a ferocity in Lee’s
starts off in impulsive mood. Marwood is in B flat, which uses dulcet-toned organ in playing at the start of the lassù and an
swifter than Rostropovich’s own recording the first and second movements but in the extravagance in the way she phrases the
(with the composer at the piano) and his third drops it for theorbo; this is followed friss that we haven’t heard from her on
polished tone gives the central Largo a by No 2 in F major, for which it’s the disc before: Kramer’s muscularity and
sense of nobility. Marwood makes neat harpsichord that fluidly dances in. aggression are exciting here, too.
work of the busy five-movement Solo Suite, If you’re in the market for a top period A similar darkness of mood and weight
introverted in the melancholy Aria, nimbly performance and want to do some of attack characterise the opening of
leaping between octaves in the Capriccio. comparative listening before taking the Ravel’s Tzigane, which is noble and suitably
An interesting byway of 20th-century Soviet plunge, then I’d suggest either that Coin fiery, though Lee’s way with it isn’t as
chamber music. Mark Pullinger recording or the one from Marco Ceccato searching as some interpreters: place
Cello Sonata – selected comparison: with Accademia Ottoboni. However, either her beside, say, Ginette Neveu (6/49),
Rostropovich, B Tchaikovsky (MELO) MELCD100 0944 way, you won’t go wrong with this new and you’re struck by the latter’s ability to
recording. Charlotte Gardner coax greater shades of meaning from the
Vivaldi Selected comparisons: disparate phrases. With the piano entry,
Six Cello Sonatas, Op 14 Coin, Hogwood (4/89) (LOIL) D 421 060-2OH however, the performance really takes
Jean-Guihen Queyras, Christoph Dangel vcs Ceccato, Accademia Ottoboni (A/14) wing, with bravura playing from both of
Michael Behringer hpd/org Lee Santana theorbo (ZZT) ZZT338 or (ALPH) ALPHA325 them, and tangible exhilaration at the
Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2278 (71’ • DDD) conclusion. It’s another fine disc from
‘Mythes’ Lee, one that consolidates her growing
Bartók Rhapsody No 1, Sz86 Ravel Tzigane reputation and marks her out as an artist
Stravinsky Suite italienne Szymanowski to watch in future. Tim Ashley
There’s a happy Mythes, Op 30 Wieniawski Légende, Op 17
inevitability about Jiyoon Lee vn Henry Kramer pf ‘Poetical Humors’
French period cellists Champs Hill F CHRCD141 (67’ • DDD) Bull Goodnighte. Myself Dowland Can she
taking Vivaldi’s six excuse my wrongs. Flow, my tears, fall from
cello sonatas into the recording studio, your springs. In darkness let me dwell. Shall
when the Bibliothèque Nationale de I sue, shall I seek for grace? East And I as well as
France still houses the manuscript copy Jiyoon Lee’s thou Gibbons Fantasia. Galliard a 3 Hersant
used by unscrupulous Parisian publishers Champs Hill recital Lully Lullay Hume Captain Humes Pavan.
who first managed to publish the set in with Henry Kramer Sweete Musicke. Touch me sweetely. What
1740, without Vivaldi’s permission. follows hard on the greater grief Tidrow Into something rich and
What Queyras has come up with here heels of her remarkable debut album strange
is very fine, too. Plus it’s satisfyingly (Orchid, A/18), on which she played the Les inAttendus (Vincent Lhermet accordion
different to Christophe Coin’s beautifully Nielsen and Korngold concertos with the Marianne Muller va da gamba)
slender-toned 1989 effort with Odense Symphony under Kristiina Poska. Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2610 (62’ • DDD)
Christopher Hogwood. The main work on the new disc is
If you wanted one takeaway headline Szymanowski’s Mythes and anyone already
for this recording then it would be its sense familiar with her performance of the
of intimacy and immediacy; a quality we Korngold will recognise the comparable At first sight, the
can mostly put down to the easy, loving qualities she brings to it. young accordionist
familiarity with which Queyras handles There’s an admirable refusal to hurry, Vincent Lhermet and
this repertoire, but one which has also been so that Szymanowski’s long, asymmetrical veteran viola da gamba
heightened by his surrounding decision- lines are given space to sing and breathe. player Marianne Muller seem the oddest of
making. For instance, while these days Once again, you notice both her odd couples. But a shared passion for early
Queyras’s usual cello is a 1696 instrument extraordinary sweetness of tone and the and contemporary music – albeit in
by the Turinese maker Gioffredo Cappa, rapt, ecstatic way she takes each phrase, different proportions according to the
for this Vivaldi he’s returned to the so that the music – this is Szymanowski nature of their instruments – and an
intimate and soft-timbred anonymous at his most sensuous – really beguiles and ‘artistic kinship and shared sensibility’ led
Milanese cello of 1690 you hear on past seduces. Kramer is superb in this work, them to form the duo Les inAttendus.

58 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS

Invigorating rhythmic energy: the Calidore Quartet ofer a thought-provoking programme

But what of this seemingly odd find their roots in the past while rendering an underlying rhythmic energy that I found
instrumental combination? We find it truly another land. Rich and strange enormously invigorating, whether in their
nothing odd about the bandoneón and indeed. It is fitting that Dowland’s In bracing approach to Mendelssohn’s tragic
double bass. It’s all a matter of convention. darkness let me dwell should bring the F minor Quartet – a near ideal meeting of
Put aside your awareness of the accordion curtain down on this this gorgeous lyricism and high tension – or the playful
as ‘modern’, the gamba as ‘ancient’, and and moving recital. William Yeoman rhythmic kick-and-a-swing they give to
just listen. Their timbres, their ranges, the Prokofiev. The booklet explains that
their sonorities perfectly complement each ‘Resilience’ the album is themed around the idea of
other, as does these musicians’ profoundly Golijov Tenebrae Janáček String Quartet No 1, human resilience in the face of suffering,
poetical playing. Especially in the music ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’ Mendelssohn String but Prokofiev’s folk-inspired quartet has
of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, Quartet No 6, Op 80 Prokofiev String Quartet a playful spirit, even though it was written
when the variegated, dark-hued sounds No 2, Op 92 in wartime, and that comes through with
of mixed consorts of strings, winds and Calidore Quartet real warmth and wit.
plucked instruments and the delicate Signum F SIGCD551 (81’ • DDD) In fact, for all the crisp attention to
plaints of the lute song were heard detail (listen to those sul ponticello stabs),
throughout the kingdom. the two central works in the programme –
It is into this world that Les inAttendus Janá∂ek’s The Kreutzer Sonata and Osvaldo
plunge us, paying deference to the The cover of this Golijov’s millennial meditation Tenebrae –
Elizabethan cult of melancholy with new release from come off as pensive rather than pointed.
sweetly plangent performances of works the Calidore Quartet The recorded sound is translucent and
by Gibbons and Dowland, as well as Hume has the four players upfront but the individual players
and East. In Hume’s What greater grief, standing in sunglasses in a Manhattan repeatedly find a sweetness of expression
for example, swelling tones and reedy street, with the Freedom Tower rising (cellist Estelle Choi’s long, high solo in
harmonies redolent of the portative organ behind them. In this business you don’t the Golijov is a case in point) that sets up
usher in a programme where even such judge a book by its cover, but I can’t a fascinating tension with the group’s
jaunty accordion solos like John Bull’s entirely discount the possibility that this overall dynamism, and indeed objectivity.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: C A R L I N M A

Goodnighte, originally for keyboards, evoke was why, as they launch into Prokofiev’s Freshness doesn’t have to be chilly, and
a sailor’s squeezebox yet are tinged with Second Quartet – and repeatedly precision needn’t inhibit expression.
sadness and regret. Even the two superb throughout the disc – I kept thinking These lively, intelligent performances
works written especially for the duo, of minimalism. of an attractive and thought-provoking
Thierry Tidrow’s Into something rich and That’s meant in the most positive way, programme offer compelling proof.
strange and Philippe Hersant’s Lully lullay of course. Everything here has a clarity and Richard Bratby

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 59


ICONS

Ida Haendel
Rob Cowan pays tribute to the indomitable British violinist of Polish birth, a pupil of both
Enescu and Flesch who has been in the limelight since she was six – and is soon to turn 90

B
ack in July 2013 at London’s Cadogan Hall I had the a golden age, but her extensive travels, her triumphs at the
good fortune to conduct an onstage interview with one Proms and her ageless energy pin her as much to the new
of the violin legends of the 20th century, Ida Haendel. generation as to the old.
Although by then in her mid-eighties, she also performed She was born in 1928 to a Polish Jewish family in Chełm,
for us. Earlier on, Haendel had told me that while still a and her talents came to the fore when she picked up her sister’s
child she performed Bach for her teacher Enescu, who violin aged three. Major competition triumphs followed
disappointingly made no comment either way on her playing. (including winning the 1933 Huberman prize). As to her
During that evening she tackled Enescu’s own profoundly recording career, 1940 marked its starting point (mostly
rhapsodic Third Sonata short pieces), whereas five
accompanied by the Serbian
pianist Misha Dacić, a reading
Sibelius wrote to her: ‘I congratulate years later she recorded the
Tchaikovsky Concerto (under
that, although frail, was myself that my concerto has found an Basil Cameron) and, two
greeted by sudden flashes of years after that, the Dvo∑ák
expressive intensity. It was a interpreter of your rare standard’ (the latter available on
warming experience. As I said Pristine and as a download).
to her at the time, ‘It seems to me that Enescu was making Coming more up to date, a pair of Testament releases
amends for not reacting to your Bach by bringing his own of 1970s recordings attest to Haendel’s svelte, sensitively
spirit to your playing of his Third Sonata.’ She enjoyed the modulated playing, particularly ‘Popular Encores’
evening, regaling us with many fond memories, not least (SBT1259). Turn then to ‘Baroque Transcriptions’
of her work with the conductors Sergiu Celibidache and (SBT1258) and you have what in my view is a genuinely
Sir Thomas Beecham. great violin CD, one to place alongside those where Heifetz,
Mastering the earth-and-fire rhetoric of Enescu’s Third has Szigeti, Elman, Campoli or Aaron Rosand (to name but five)
been the privilege of very few. Apart from Enescu himself, tackle similar repertoire with parallel levels of expressive
one could cite Menuhin, Ferras and, more recently, Sherban generosity. With Haendel you invariably sense that ecstatic
Lupu; and Haendel can for control of melodic line,
certain be admitted to their defining moments that holding fast to the
ranks, at least in principle. harmonic thread – musically,
A late recording (1996) with •1935 – Prodigy patiently and with the
Vladimir Ashkenazy (Decca), At the age of six she competes against the likes of David Oistrakh inimitable touch of a true
although pianistically vivid, and Ginette Neveu to become a laureate of the first International craftsperson. Compare two
finds her sounding thin- Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, having already, two years Haendel versions of Bach’s
toned, whereas an earlier earlier, won both the Warsaw conservatoire’s gold medal and the Chaconne – one from
concert recording (1980) Huberman prize with performances of Beethoven’s Concerto the 1960s (live, Doremi),
with Ronald Turini (Doremi) •1937 – Proms association begins the other from the ’90s
frees her muse to wander Makes her London debut under the baton of Sir Henry Wood, (Testament); while the
without hindrance from which brings her worldwide critical acclaim. She begins a lifelong tempos are quite similar,
a compromised technique. association with the Proms music festival, where she has appeared it’s fascinating to gauge the
As I’ve said before in these some 68 times way in which she emphasises
pages, whenever I tune in to •1952-1989 – Canadian years certain phrases on the
Haendel on the radio without Lives in Montreal. Her collaborations with Canadian orchestras earlier version, almost like
knowing who’s playing, earn her considerable celebrity in Canadian musical life a question and answer
I invariably sit transfixed sequence, as compared with
until the announcer gives •1973 – Chinese privilege the marginally more classical
the game away. I am never Is the first Western soloist invited to China following the approach of the later version.
surprised, and yet discussions Cultural Revolution Another interesting point
about ‘great’ fiddlers on disc •2006 – Celebrity status of comparison concerns
too often relegate her to Performs for Pope Benedict XVI at the former Nazi concentration two recordings of the Elgar
the sidelines. camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Subsequent engagements include Concerto – one recorded
As a pupil of Carl Flesch a tribute concert at London’s National Gallery in 2010 in in the studio in the 1970s
and Enescu, she represents celebration of Dame Myra Hess’s wartime concerts (under Sir Adrian Boult), the

60 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ICONS

other live in the 1980s (under Sir John Pritchard); the live interpretation of this passionate perennial elicited a fan letter
version is swifter than the studio one by about six minutes. from the composer himself, saying, ‘I congratulate you on the
The two performances feel entirely different. great success, but most of all I congratulate myself, that my
Hänssler Classic’s SWR Music released two repertory concerto has found an interpreter of your rare standard.’ As to
staples played with considerable poise, passion and tonal Wieniawski, listening to her scintillating version of his Second
allure (CD94 205): Haendel’s impressive staccato bowing and Concerto (also on Supraphon), we might recall that Haendel
warm, almost Elman-like tone elevates a 1960 broadcast of was a laureate of the first International Henryk Wieniawski
Tchaikovsky’s Concerto well above the norm; the coupling, Violin Competition in 1935 – she was just six years old.
a 1965 Dvo∑ák Concerto, takes a little time to settle but the To describe Haendel as a last survivor from the virtuoso
Adagio ma non troppo is gloriously played, easily a match for old guard would seem mildly glib; similarly, to say that
Suk or David Oistrakh. But although Haendel’s recording she’s an institution is rather like a half-hearted compliment.
career reaches back to the shellac age, perhaps the pinnacle Better, perhaps, to praise the vibrancy of a player who
of her art on disc, apart from a magisterial late (1995) set ticks only those boxes that she deems it necessary to tick
of Bach solo works for (not for her the ascetic
Testament, are the recordings the essential recording manners of authentic
P H O T O G R A P H Y: C T K /A L A M Y S T O C K P H O T O

she made for Supraphon with instrument performance).


the Czech Philharmonic and ‘Baroque Transcriptions’ She’s a true individual in
Prague Symphony orchestras. Ida Haendel vn Geofrey Parsons pf every musical sense of the
Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole Testament (8/02) term. For those and other
enjoys biting attack and Haendel proves herself the archetypical qualities, her art will forever
luscious tonal projection, practitioner of bel canto tone projection, be celebrated wherever
and the Sibelius Concerto and with a well-honed technique. Parsons there are listeners who know
(both under Karel An∂erl) is an ideal collaborator and the sound is what quality violin playing
reminds us that Haendel’s superb in these recordings made in 1976. is all about.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 61


Instrumental
Michelle Assay hears a nocturnal Jed Distler on Hélène Grimaud’s
programme from Dénes Várjon: latest concept album:
‘In the Bartók, Várjon elicits sharply profiled ‘Grimaud’s phrasing of Satie’s evocative
textures and finds an instinctive balance between right-hand melody takes on a shimmering,
detachment and expressivity’ REVIEW ON PAGE 65 disembodied aura’ REVIEW ON PAGE 72

JS Bach ‘horizontal’ conception of the work Vol 8 opens in fine style with a
Goldberg Variations, BWV988 results in an improvisatory quality that sweeping rendition of the Dorian
Wolfgang Rübsam lute-hpd is nevertheless characterised by absolute Toccata and Fugue. In the toccata
Naxos M 8 573921 (78’ • DDD) clarity and fidelity to Bach’s semiquaver figuration is kept clear and
architecture. William Yeoman light, with an occasional pleasing extra
mordent thrown in to keep the listener
JS Bach on their toes. The broad and stately
There is already ‘The Complete Organ Works, Vol 8’ Fugue flows its steady course to a
a rich catalogue of Ach Gott und Herr, BWV714. Concerto, mighty conclusion. A pair of manual-
recordings made on BWV593 (after Vivaldi, Op 3 No 8). Fugue, only chorale preludes then clears the air
the Lautenwerk, or BWVAnh42. Jesus, meine Zuversicht, BWV728. for the fourth Trio Sonata in E minor,
lute-harpsichord, by the organist, pianist, O Lamm Gottes unschuldig, BWV656. Prelude with its syncopated opening Vivace,
teacher and sound engineer Wolfgang and Fugue, ‘Wedge’, BWV548. Prelude, floating central Andante (exquisitely
Rübsam for his own Counterpoint BWV568. Toccata and Fugue, ‘Dorian’, registered) and jaunty minuet finale. The
Records. Not only Bach’s Art of Fugue, BWV538. Trio, BWV1027a. Trio Sonata No 4, flourish-some Prelude BWV568 shows
the complete Well-Tempered Clavier and BWV528. Valet will ich dir geben, BWV736 Goode’s rhetorical rubato to its best
transcriptions of Bach’s Cello Suites but David Goode org advantage and he maintains a high
also the keyboard music of Pachelbel Signum F SIGCD808 (71’ • DDD) voltage of excitement in the outer
and one of Bach’s early masters, Georg movements of the sparkling Vivaldi
Böhm. This recording of Bach’s Goldberg JS Bach concerto arrangement, BWV593. The
Variations on the same superb instrument, ‘The Complete Organ Works, Vol 9’ rest of the disc is just as rewarding,
built by Rübsam’s friend Keith Hill, Fantasia, BWV571. Fantasia and Fugue, especially the Trio arrangement of
was therefore not unexpected. But it BWV537. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, the G major Sonata for gamba and
is surprising nonetheless. And BWV720. Fughetta ‘Das Jesulein soll doch harpsichord, BWV1027a, and in the final
quite wonderful. mein Trost’, BWV702. Liebster Jesu, wir sind Wedge Prelude and Fugue Goode really
Bach never wrote directly for lute; hier, BWV730. Preludes and Fugues – BWV531; opens up the organ, squeezing as much
his works for the instrument are BWV543. Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig, BWV768. emotional feeling from its rich choruses
transcriptions from his pre-existing Trios – BWV585 (after Fasch); BWV586 as possible.
music or were written for the lute- (after Telemann). Wir glauben all’ an einen Vol 9 follows in a similar pattern of
harpsichord, an instrument designed Gott’, BWV765 judicious programming with a pair of
to imitate the sound of the lute. In David Goode org sparkling Preludes and Fugues topping
this it seemed remarkably successful: Signum F SIGCD809 (73’ • DDD) and tailing the disc. The centrepiece is
Bach’s student Agricola once wrote Both discs played on the organ of the 20-minute chorale partita on Sei
that a lute-harpsichord could fool Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge gegrüsset, Jesu gütig in a compelling
experienced lutenists. performance, both interpretatively
Hill’s lute-harpsichord has one and in the thorough exploration of the
manual, one set of gut strings activated Metzler’s colours. For me, though, the
by one of two sets of jacks – which highlight of the disc is the heart-
mimic the way a lutenist moves his wrenching C minor Fantasia and Fugue,
right hand closer to or further from BWV537. Please banish all memories
the bridge to achieve different sound of Elgar’s luscious orchestration: here is
effects – and a set of brass strings which Having safely passed the halfway point the original in all its glory. In the shorter
vibrate in sympathy with the plucked of his 15-disc traversal of the complete pieces one might quibble, for example,
strings. It’s a beautiful, intimate, mellow Bach organ works for Signum Classics, with the use of a 16ft register in the
sound, resonant yet with each note David Goode continues to delight and pedal part of the chorale prelude on Wir
decaying quickly, recorder-warm rather edify in equal measure with this worthy glauben all’ an einen Gott, BWV740, but
than lute-pungent, which Rübsam project, which also marks the 40th this series is notable for the flair, clarity
exploits to the full. From the opening anniversary of the installation of the and spontaneity that Goode brings to
Aria through each of the 30 variations Metzler organ in the chapel of Trinity this timeless music. Beautifully recorded,
to the Aria da capo, whether canon, College, Cambridge. Player and both discs deserve the widest currency.
dance or overture, his cantabile, instrument are both on top form. Malcolm Riley

62 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

High-voltage excitement: David Goode goes beyond the halfway mark in his survey of Bach’s organ works

JS Bach meaning. Nobuko Imai treads a straighter Imai’s closely recorded option is more
Six Solo Viola (Cello) Suites, BWV1007-1012 path; and then there’s Fuchs, with her grainy, a little halting too, although it is
Kim Kashkashian va consistent vibrato and warmth of tone, very superbly played. Kashkashian eases into the
ECM New Series F b 481 7176 (143’ • DDD) much a style of yesteryear but extremely single-line fugal section with such natural
beautiful, building inexorably towards that facility that you could hardly imagine it
rest, stressing the chord that precedes it, being better done. Her handling of the oft-
the whole process more eventful than the excerpted Sarabande has a winning sense of
Performing Bach’s rest itself. Kashkashian I think nails the stillness about it, whereas Imai, taking a
Cello Suites in a passage from the standpoint of a superior significantly slower tempo, lays the music
transcription for stylistic balance. on a thicker carpet of tone. Fuchs’s vibrant,
viola is nothing new. To mention just a handful of additional singing line provides another manner of
Among other viola versions that I have to observations that I noted while listening to musical seduction.
hand, Lillian Fuchs recorded all six for this latest set, in Kashkashian’s hands the As to the Gavotte sequence from the
American Decca years ago (a CD reissue is opening measures of the Menuet of the Sixth Suite, the pitch is lower on Imai’s
available from Doremi), William Primrose G major Suite are colourfully articulated, version, while Kashkashian handles this
set five of them down in his later years the initial phrase which ends on a trill delightful movement with the lightest
(occasionally flawed performances that (bars 1-4) warmly rounded, its successor touch. By comparison, Fuchs’s obdurate
ring true in purely musical terms; (bars 7-8) more assertive. Then there’s a forcefulness won’t appeal to all; but, as
Biddulph) and there’s Nobuko Imai’s small rest before the embellished repeat. I’ve already suggested, her playing has
admirable Philips set which, in general With Imai, Kashkashian’s most apposite a real sense of purpose, Casals I would
terms, compares well with Kashkashian, rival, there’s no pause, no embellishment imagine having provided some sort of
though the latter’s wider tonal palette and for the repeat and less in the way of interpretative template.
sense of fantasy often incline me in her colouristic variation. Then, in the closing Viewed overall, Kashkashian delivers
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M AT T H E W O ’ D O N O VA N

direction. With Kashkashian, there’s Gigue, Kashkashian expressively slows the handsomely on all fronts and I extend a
an invariable tendency to sing out, an pace just after the beginning, whereas Imai warm welcome to her expertly engineered
appealing ease of movement, and when keeps to her initial tempo. Her playing is new set, which is much enhanced by a
we reach the written rest within bar 48 rather more formal and forceful than typically imaginative roster of illustrations
of the Prelude to the D minor Suite, Kashkashian’s whereas, in viola-playing and superb notes by Paul Griffiths.
Khashkashian – like Yo-Yo Ma on his most terms, I couldn’t imagine a more dignified Rob Cowan
recent version of the cello original (Sony, or sublimely expressed account of the Selected comparison:
A/18) – makes the gesture pregnant with C minor’s Prelude than Kashkashian’s. Imai (10/99R) (PHIL) D 475 6219PM2

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 63


Jean-guihen
queyras
Photo © Thomas Dorn
Antonio VIVALDI
SONATAS FOR CELLO
& BASSO CONTINUO
MICHAEL BEHRINGER | LEE SANTANA | CHRISTOPH DANGEL

An eloquent interpreter of Vivaldi, Jean-Guihen Queyras has already


recorded several cello concertos by this composer – an album
acclaimed by critics and music lovers alike. His latest homage to the
Venetian master features an inspired selection of cello sonatas also
HMM 902278

written in his brilliant concertante style. ‘Pisendel once submitted


an attempt at a concerto to his teacher. Vivaldi immediately divested
it of half its notes: one must know how to leave enough space for
the miracle to filter through.’ (Olivier Fourés)

harmoniamundi.com
INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Stylistically engaging: Alexandra Papastefanou plays Bach’s ‘48’ with an exploratory sense of character

JS Bach rhythmic flow, as the Book 1 C sharp two-note phrase groupings in the Book 2
Das wohltemperirte Clavier, BWV846-893 minor Fugue and B flat minor Prelude B flat Fugue subject are so supple that they
Alexandra Papastefanou pf bear out. At other times, however, they sound bowed rather than hammered.
First Hand S d FHR65 (4h 42’ • DDD) insightfully illuminate, such as in four- Other textural felicities include
voice fugues where the lines interact at Papastefanou’s downplaying the Book 1
close range like the Book 1 A minor and G minor Prelude’s trills to a haunting
Book 2 G minor. Papastefanou avoids murmur. Her beautifully regulated
Alexandra Gouldian extremes of pacing, yet certain Steinway concert grand doesn’t hurt,
Papastefanou tempo choices surprise. Her lyrically and neither does First Hand’s luminous
first came to my ruminative Book 2 C minor Prelude, for recorded sound. Space-challeneged
attention via a instance, differs from the lilting détaché of collectors will further appreciate the
mesmerising performance of Dimitri the Hewitt and Schiff remakes, while, by label’s ‘DigiSleeve’ packaging. Beyond
Mitropoulos’s rarely heard Piano Sonata contrast, her Book 2 F major Fugue is question, Papastefanou more than holds
but her credentials as a Bach scholar and unusually brisk and bouncy. The Book 1 her own alongside the catalogue’s top
interpreter stretch back for decades, D sharp minor and Book 2 G sharp minor piano versions of the ‘48’. Jed Distler
including a long-unavailable 1991 Fugues also take uncommon wing as
recording of Book 1 of The Well-Tempered Papastefanou liberates them from their Bartók . Ravel . Schumann
Clavier for the Greek label Musica Viva. dirge-like pedestals. ‘De la nuit’
She has now recorded all 48 Preludes The aforementioned independence Bartók Out of Doors, Sz81 Ravel Gaspard
and Fugues anew, revealing herself to of Papastefanou’s fingerwork explains her de la nuit Schumann Fantasiestücke Op 12
be a seasoned and stylistically engaging ability to cogently balance contrapuntal Dénes Várjon pf
Bach pianist. lines in relation to one another, as well ECM New Series F 481 7003 (66’ • DDD)
Salient aspects of harpsichord as to follow them through to their final
P H O T O G R A P H Y: G E O R G I A S A L A M B A S I

technique inform Papastefanou’s approach, destination. A good example of this can be


such as varied legato articulations and found in the Book 2 C sharp minor Fugue,
arpeggiations, strong finger independence, where her sprightly pulse still allows each No doubts about
plus the occasional use of agogic caesuras entrance of the elaborate subject to take the qualifications of
and tenutos to demarcate phrase groupings eloquent shape. She also brings out the Ravel’s Gaspard for a
and points of harmonic tension. Sometimes Book 1 A major Fugue’s cross-rhythmic disc entitled ‘Of the
these expressive gestures momentarily pull implications while not overdoing the Night’. But only three of Schumann’s
focus away from the music’s natural détaché articulation. Note, too, how her eight Fantasiestücke fit the bill (why not

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 65


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

give us his Nachtstücke instead?), and only both extraordinarily intense by comparison.
one of Bartók’s Out of Doors. No wonder While Tharaud’s quiet coda is suitably
the booklet note writer clutches at straws, valedictory, it doesn’t feel as if he has
claiming that all three pieces require a Alexandre Tharaud travelled as far as some in this work.
pianist ‘for whom transcendent virtuosity is a musician of Harriet Smith
is second nature’ (Gaspard for sure, wide interests, as Selected comparisons – coupled as above:
Bartók not really and Schumann hardly, compelling in the Uchida (5/06) (PHIL) 475 6935PH
apart from ‘Traumes Wirren’) and that Baroque as he is delightful in a favourite Levit (11/13) (SONY) 88883 74735-2
all three have ‘unusual poetic titles’ disc of mine, ‘Le boeuf sur le toit’ (12/12). Bavouzet (12/16) (CHAN) CHAN10925 or CHAN10960
(same comment). Now he has gone mainstream, with Kovacevich (WARN) 9029 58692-2
But never mind the packaging, what Beethoven’s last three sonatas. Piano Sonata No 30 – selected comparison:
about the product? Notwithstanding He brings to Op 109’s opening A Fischer (WARN) 2564 63412-3
Várjon’s acclaimed interpretations movement a suitable effortlessness,
of Schumann’s chamber music in contrasting a billowing airiness with Chopin
collaboration with Steven Isserlis, his a steelier approach to the recitative-like Complete Nocturnes
Fantasiestücke lack depth of feeling and writing. One of Tharaud’s stylistic traits is Ingrid Fliter pf
perspective in the sound. His rapidly clarity of fingerwork and that is certainly Linn F b CKD565 (107’ • DDD)
predictable agogic accents are no much in evidence in the brief Prestissimo
substitute. And while he clearly makes Scherzo, but I found the accentuation
an effort to convey the poetry and somewhat underwhelming, which lessened
rhetoric of Eusebius’s replies to the the sense of contrast that musicians such Pianists who record
stormy Florestan, he does not find the as Kovacevich and Annie Fischer find. Chopin’s Nocturnes
interiorising quality that the dialogue On the other hand, Tharaud brings to usually sequence
demands (if in doubt, hear Richter for the theme on which the finale variations the works by opus
the real thing). are based a solemnity without sounding number. Ingrid Fliter differs from most by
Still, Várjon’s Schumann is a good portentous, the following variations by devising a running order full of intriguing
deal more successful than his Ravel, turn poised (No 1) and energetic (No 3), juxtapositions, as did Earl Wild. Such
at least as far as ‘Ondine’ and ‘Le gibet’ with the fugal writing of No 5 clearly programming savvy makes sense if you
are concerned. Even before invoking etched. But the closing moments of the plan on listening to all of the Nocturnes
the unfair comparison of the sonata don’t reach the transcendental state in one sitting.
matchlessly shimmering and hypnotic of, say, Uchida. For example, the B major Nocturne,
Michelangeli (several different accounts The same traits come through in the Op 32 No 1, nonchalantly slips right into
available), Várjon’s textures feel lumpy, remaining two sonatas. To generalise, Op 9 No 3 in the same key. One doesn’t
his phrasing too choppy and his voicing Tharaud is most convincing in the more have to study music theory to aurally
of the main lines unconvincing. moderately tempered music: he imbues the sense the subtle unity of key relationships
Conveying the emotional core of first movement of Op 110 with a refreshing between disc 1’s last four selections
‘Scarbo’ seems to be his priority, and airiness but the second (Allegro molto) is (C minor, A flat, B and E minor). And
here he is admirably competent, even slightly careful-sounding, the rough edges two Nocturnes in the same key back-to-
though his interpretation is a tableau sanded smooth. How much more drive back make a striking pair, as the grace
predominantly painted in reds, whereas Uchida finds here without ever resorting to and simplicity of the E flat Op 9 No 2
shades of silver would have been the ugliness. Whereas she has you hanging on give way to the polyphonic intensity of
colour of choice. her every note, Tharaud sounds as if he’s the E flat Op 55 No 2.
With his Hungarian compatriot, still feeling his way in this repertoire. The There’s no questioning Fliter’s innate
Várjon is suddenly in his element. The following Adagio is beautifully shaded, and affinity for Chopin, as numerous past
sound world of Out of Doors is far better when the fugue enters he gives it a Bachian recordings prove. Think of her freshly
suited to his technique and temperament. feel, molto legato, pacing the build-up to minted EMI B minor Sonata and cycle of
From the angularity of ‘With Drums and the climax well. But as the emotional Waltzes, her imaginative Mazurka-playing,
Pipes’ to the creepily flickering ‘Music temperature hots up, Tharaud can’t find and her exquisitely sculpted runs and
of the Night’, Várjon elicits sharply the necessary edge of desperation. roulades in both concertos. By contrast,
profiled textures and finds an instinctive That is true of the first movement of Fliter’s Chopin Preludes, Op 28, for me at
balance between detachment and Op 111 too, whose opening misses the vital least, blurred the lines between inspiration
expressivity. Overall, he is not helped tension that makes Bavouzet’s version stand and mannerism, and so do stretches of her
by the unduly close recording, which out, with his grandeur of vision in the new Nocturne cycle.
captures breathing and pedal noise all Maestoso and a mightiness of intent in the While she is bent on moving Op 15
too realistically and probably contributes following Allegro. Tharaud’s Arietta theme No 2’s phrases over the bar lines, there’s
to the rather overbearing, metallic quality is, on the other hand, tenderly given, and no perceptible harmonic or structural basis
in the sound. Michelle Assay I liked his sense of growth as the variations to her speedings-up and slowings-down,
develop. I was, however, slightly surprised not to mention her capricious dynamics.
Beethoven he didn’t make more of the anarchically She underlines the D flat Op 27 No 2’s
Piano Sonatas – No 30, Op 109; jazzy third one, though the high-lying bel canto-inspired details at the expense of
No 31, Op 110; No 32, Op 111 writing in the fourth is given an iridescent the music’s sense of repose and cantabile
Alexandre Tharaud pf glow. And yet, as the trilling travels ever eloquence, whereas Maria João Pires’s
Erato F 9029 56338-2; F 6 9029 56337-8 higher up the keyboard, it’s not as ethereal shimmering long lines create far more
(62’ • DDD) in effect as the finest, Uchida and Levit mobility at an altogether slower tempo.

66 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

In his element in Bartók: Dénes Várjon combines the music of his compatriot with evocative works by Ravel and Schumann

Indeed, Fliter’s live 2003 Concertgebouw Selected comparisons: Chopin concertos by Dina Yoffe, using
traversal (VAI) was far more vibrant, direct Rubinstein (2/68 ) (SONY) 88697 69041-2
R
an 1848 Pleyel for the E minor Concerto
and all of a piece. Arrau (6/79R) (PHIL) 456 336-2PM2 or 464 694-2PM2 and an 1838 Érard for the F minor.
Fliter takes an eternity over Op 32 Pires (10/96) (DG) 447 096-2GH2 or 477 9568GM2 A native of Riga and graduate of the
No 2’s opening two Lento measures, while Moravec (10/12) (SUPR) SU4097-2 Moscow Conservatory, Yoffe is artistic
her rhythmic fussing in the central episode director of the Malaga summer festival
dissipates the music’s build and ultimately Chopin in Spain and teaches at the Hamburg
undermines the impact and inevitability of Piano Concertos – No 1, Op 11a; No 2, Op 21b Conservatory. If any justification were
the Appassionato climax that an even more Dina Yoffe pf needed for this project it would be that
rhetorical artist like Claudio Arrau judges Fryderyk Chopin institute F NIFCCD034 the full orchestral scores for both Chopin
to shattering perfection. She also loses (75’ • DDD) concertos weren’t collated and published
the momentum of the agitato pedal-point Recorded b2010, a2013 until the 1860s. The versions heard here,
passage leading into Op 27 No 1’s con or ones accompanied by string quartet or
anima, which in turn loses its climactic aura quintet, were the way these pieces were
on account of Fliter’s mincing ritenutos. most frequently experienced during
Paradoxically, Fliter realises her poetic For anyone who Chopin’s lifetime.
potential most convincingly when she may have missed it, Yoffe’s performances achieve a genuine
plays straight and doesn’t try so hard to Poland is assuming a sweep, as well as a personal stamp, not
interpret. Cases in point include her leadership position in always encountered in performances
ethereal, almost offhand separation of the use of historical instruments by pianists. of the concertos with orchestra. Always
melody and accompaniment in Op 48 In addition to a number of interesting poised and rhythmical, Yoffe’s rubato is
No 2’s main section, the shapely recordings made over the past decade or so, chaste and effective. The orchestral tuttis
P H O T O G R A P H Y: D Á N I E L VA S S / E C M R E C O R D S

introspection she brings to Op 37 No 1 just this September the Fryderyk Chopin are seamlessly integrated and receive the
and the gentle lilt in the posthumous Institute mounted the First International same imagination and fastidious attention
C sharp minor’s central mazurka episode. Chopin Competition on period to detail as is lavished on the solo part. For
On the whole, Fliter’s conceptions stand instruments, with subsequent competitions those who consider the Larghetto of the
at different stages of ripening, as opposed slated to occur every five years. Contestants F minor Concerto the crux of Chopin’s
to the divergent yet fully formed vantage were offered a choice of six antique pianos: concertante art, Yoffe’s reading is direct,
points characterising the classic Arrau, three Érards, two Pleyels and a Broadwood. heartfelt and exquisitely atmospheric.
Rubinstein, Pires and Moravec Nocturne One recent fruit of this salutary initiative My only reservation about Yoffe’s
cycles. Jed Distler is a recording of the solo versions of both interpretative choices occurs in the Rondo

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 67


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INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

of the E minor Concerto. Surely it would fervour one hears in Ives’s own Liszt
have made more sense, in the kujawiak piano-playing on private discs, whereas ‘New Discoveries, Vol 4 – Rêves et fantaisies’
passages where the solo part sings the Brylewski smooths out the edges, with Album-Leaves – ‘An die Künstler I’, S166t/1; ‘An
melody in octaves at 3'10"ff and 8'18"ff, every note in its exact place. In the central die Künstler II’, S166t/2; ‘Aus dem Mephisto-
to have dropped the left-hand doubling march, however, Rangell is rhythmically Walzer’, S167m/2; ‘Ave Maria’, S164q; ‘Dublin’,
and maintain instead some element of unsettled, while Brylewski’s rigid accuracy S164r; ‘Düsseldorf Preludio’, S163f2. Bülow-
the delicate string accompaniment, rather pales next to Jeremy Denk’s brisker, more Marsch, S229b. Danse des syphes de La
than leaving the tune unsupported by the idiomatic interpretation. damnation de Faust de Hector Berlioz, S474a.
harmonies for 36 bars. Rangell’s fidgety sense of timing Dem Andenken Petőfis, S195ii. Den Schutz-
That quibble aside, Yoffe plays these undermines moments of simplicity and Engeln (Angelus), S162a/1. Den Zypressen der
instruments as though she’s known them repose in ‘The Alcotts’, as well as Ives’s Villa d’Este [i], S162b/1. Essai sur l’indifference,
since childhood. Her intelligent and directives for when to press forward and S692p/2. Hungarian Rhapsody No 23,
sensitive performances will be a welcome hold back. Brylewski’s well-calibrated ‘Rêves et fantaisies’, S242/23. Kavallerie-
addition to any Chopin library. balances and finger-based legato keep the Geschwindmarsch, S460. Klavierstück, S692n.
Patrick Rucker music’s spacious countenance at bay, in La lugubre gondola, S199a/ii. Largo, S692p/1.
contrast to the more songfully inflected Maometto II de Rossini – Fantaisie, S421b.
Ives readings of Steven Mayer (Naxos) and Preludio funebre, S205b
Piano Sonata No 2, ‘Concord, Mass, 1840-1860’ Kirkpatrick (Sony). ‘Thoreau’ brings out Leslie Howard pf
Daniel Brylewski pf with the best in both pianists. Rangell Hyperion F CDA68247 (75’ • DDD)
Carolin Ralser fl Paulina Ryjak va beautifully taps into the movement’s
Dux F DUX1313 (49’ • DDD) narrative swings, despite his cavalier
adherence to Ives’s time-tested dynamics
‘From the Early 20th …’ (the ‘echo’ effects, for example, go for This, incredibly,
Enescu Carillon Nocturne Ives Piano Sonata nothing). Brylewski allows the heavily is the 100th CD of
No 2, ‘Concord, Mass, 1840-1860’ Nielsen Three scored broad passages enough room to Liszt’s music for solo
Pieces, Op 59 Schoenberg Two Pieces, Op 33 resonate and makes an insidious transition piano recorded by
Andrew Rangell pf into the first statement of the slow left- the indefatigable Leslie Howard for
Steinway & Sons F STNS30100 (69’ • DDD) hand A-C-G ostinato (3'33" into the Hyperion. (He has also, I note, recently
movement). Carolin Ralser’s lovely playing recorded for another label Liszt’s own
of the optional flute solo towards the end transcriptions for two pianos of all 12
is miked at an appropriate distance, ‘across symphonic poems.) I wish I could say this
Walden Pond’, as it were. Rangell is the fourth volume of new discoveries,
first and hopefully the last pianist on record subtitled ‘Rêves et fantaisies’, was a richly
to pucker his lips and whistle the flute part. satisfying cornucopia of valuable and
Such cuteness cheapens one of Ives’s most unexpected treasures but, frankly, it is
In the 80 years since John Kirkpatrick inspired moments. not – though obviously an essential
gave Ives’s Concord Sonata its first If anything, Rangell’s recreative intensity purchase for hardcore Lisztians and
complete performance, the music has seems to merge more organically with his Howard completists.
evolved from a pianistic Mount Everest disc’s other selections. He wrings more All the recordings are believed to be
scaled by a brave few to an international angularity and harmonic tension from world premieres. The majority of the
repertoire staple equally embraced by Nielsen’s imaginative Op 59 tryptich than 19 titles are first drafts, second drafts,
proficient young virtuosos such as Daniel anyone else on disc and gives shape and alternative versions and suchlike that
Brylewski and older maverick personalities meaning to Enescu’s gorgeous evocations have already appeared on Howard’s
like Andrew Rangell. of distant bells, while, I might add, taking monumental series in their final garb,
Brylewski approaches Ives’s combative Enescu’s pianissimos more seriously than including five Album-Leaves (the shortest
and convoluted keyboard-writing with a he does those of Ives! His arpeggiation lasting 17 seconds, the longest 55) and
scrupulous eye and ear for detail, taking of non-arpeggiated chords, though, seems two scraps of juvenilia (1'56" and 1'16"
the opening ‘Emerson’ movement’s mannered rather than purposeful. In respectively). There is the first draft of
impulsive and sometimes contradictory comparison to relatively objective, ‘by the the Bülow-Marsch (1883) which even
tempo modifications on faith. book’ renditions of Schoenberg’s Op 33 Howard admits is ‘the composer having
Countermelodies emerge in clear from Pollini (DG, 6/88), Lubimov (Vista a bad day at the office’. Of the other
perspective alongside clotted chords. The Vera) and Jacobs (Nonesuch), Rangell’s shortish works only the Album-Leaf ‘Aus
pianist’s care over slurred staccatos lends interpretations are broader, more rhetorical dem Mephisto-Walzer’ (a stand-alone
uncommon distinction to the passages in and contrapuntally varied. piece using material from the central
which they occur, while his unruffled In short, the virtues and drawbacks of section of the Mephisto Waltz No 1) and
command of the long chains of left-hand both Concord performances balance each the Kavallerie-Geschwindmarsch (1870) are
arpeggios conveys effortless sweep. Yet other out. Neither, however, usurp Jeremy viable for recital, this latter described by
while Rangell doesn’t match Brylewski’s Denk’s bold and brilliant reference version, Howard as ‘full of amusement and
hyper-detailed control, he contrasts and out of print on CD but available via delightful unimportance’ and ‘the single
characterises Ives’s rapid changes from download. Jed Distler most elusive publication from Liszt’s
petulant outbursts to lyrical tenderness Ives – selected comparisons: lifetime’. He makes of it a cheerfully
more convincingly. Similarly, Rangell Denk (11/10US) (TDM) D TDM2567 effective encore.
hurls into the rapid runs and syncopations Kirkpatrick (SONY) D 88875 06190-2 The two longer works here will
in ‘Hawthorne’ with the improvisatory Mayer (NAXO) 8 559127 ultimately tip you towards a purchase

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 69


MARK BEBBINGTON
“Truly a remarkable pianist...”
The Times

Mark Bebbington plays Schubert and Liszt at


St John’s Smith Square on
Wednesday, 14th November 2018

Includes the premiere recording of

Grieg’s sketches for


Piano Concerto No.2
CD OF THE WEEK
The Times

DRIVE DISCOVERY CD OF THE WEEK


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ALBUM OF THE WEEK


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INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Beguiling intimacy: Kevin Kenner reveals his afection for Paderewski

(or not): Maometto II de Rossini is a a high-profile name despite his successes


substantial (8'34") section of an unfinished in both the 1990 Chopin and Tchaikovsky
operatic fantasy based, I learn, on competitions (second and third prizes
‘Risponda a te primiero’, the chorus from There are at least respectively). His approach to
Act 1 of the opera. This is the virtuoso three good reasons Paderewski’s music reveals long
Liszt (it was written in 1839 and certainly for investing in this acquaintance and great affection, with
gives the pianist and his septuagenarian fine recording. First, beautifully judged rubato and a beguiling
fingers a challenging work out) but there is the prospect of hearing 10 of intimacy that illuminate in the best
I question if this ‘marvellous torso’ Paderewski’s best works for solo piano possible light all six Humoresques de concert,
(Howard) is marvellous enough to earn played on his own instrument (albeit not Op 14 (of which the once-ubiquitous
the affection of pianists. The same must be the one at which he would have composed Minuet in G is the first) and two from
said for the opening item of the disc, which any of them, for these date from 1885 to the seven Série de morceaux, Op 16; these,
is in effect the Hungarian Rhapsody No 23 1903 and the piano is a 1925 Hamburg Melody (No 2) and Nocturne (No 4), are
(1847). Only recently published, at 21'54" Steinway Model D). It is in excellent voice, ravishingly played. Is the piano placed too
it is the longest by a country mile of Liszt’s with a more mellow upper register than we distantly in the sound picture? Perhaps,
essays in modus hungarica. Its meandering are used to today but with the familiar but it allows the Steinway to truly sing
course and lack of memorable thematic resonant growling bass. and breathe.
material put it outside the canon for this Second, there is the inclusion of The cherry on top is Kenner’s
listener, but let not that detract from a Paderewski’s Op 15, officially titled Dans le performance of the Sonata in E flat minor
superbly played (and researched) addition desert: Tableau musical en forme d’une toccata, (1903), Paderewski’s greatest and most
to this extraordinary artist’s legacy. which I for one have never encountered important work for solo piano. Here
Jeremy Nicholas before. It was written in 1887 and at 9'06" Kenner has serious competition from
is over twice the length of any of the other Jonathan Plowright, today’s leading
Paderewski
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B R U N O F I D R Y C H

eight short works here. While it must champion of the composer, whose 2006
Humoresques de concert, Op 14. Dans le désert surely have been recorded before, I can recording was rightly praised. I think
(Toccata), Op 15. Miscellanea, Op 16 – No 2, find none currently available. It is highly Kenner trumps even Plowright, despite
Mélodie; No 4, Nocturne. Piano Sonata, Op 21 virtuoso with most appealing ideas. Its his omission of the first-movement repeat.
Kevin Kenner pf neglect is puzzling. The last movement, a scintillating
Fryderyk Chopin institute F NIFCCD057 Third, and most persuasively, there and technically challenging toccata, is
(70’ • DDD) is the playing of Kevin Kenner, hardly articulated with thrilling clarity and élan.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 71


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Altogether this is a piano disc – let alone the Perlman sitting in my back pocket for ‘Memory’
a Paderewski recital – to treasure. when I fancy a bit of living life dangerously. Chopin Mazurka No 13, Op 17 No 4. Nocturne
Jeremy Nicholas That said, I also suspect I will yet be No 19, Op 72 No 1. Waltz No 3, Op 34 No 2
Piano Sonata – selected comparison: revisiting Jacobs when I fancy beauty of Debussy Arabesque No 1. La plus que lente.
Plowright (12/07) (HYPE) CDA67562 a slightly softer hue. Charlotte Gardner Rêverie. Suite bergamasque – Clair de lune Satie
Selected comparisons: Gnossiennes – No 1; No 4. Gymnopédie No 1.
Paganini Perlman (6/72R) (WARN) 2564 61303-4 Pièces froides, Book 2 – No 1, En y regardent à
Caprices, Op 1 Ehnes (1/10) ONYX) ONYX4044 deux fois; No 2, Passer Sawhney Breathing Light
Lisa Jacobs vn Silvestrov Bagatelles – No 1; No 2
Cobra F (two discs for the price of one) Frederic Lamond 1 Hélène Grimaud pf
COBRA0064 (87’ • DDD) ‘The Liszt Recordings & HMV & DG F 483 5710GH; F 6 483 5358GH (52’ • DDD)
Electrola Electrical Recordings’
Including works by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin,
Glinka/Balakirev, Liszt and Rubinstein
It was surely only a Frederic Lamond pf Remember Lang
matter of time before APR B c APR7310 (3h 58’ • ADD) Lang’s DG release
the Dutch violinist Recorded 1919-41 entitled ‘Memory’
Lisa Jacobs recorded (7/06), mostly centred
Paganini, after the assured, personality-rich around repertoire evocative of childhood
account she gave in 2016 of the concertos recollections? Hélène Grimaud’s latest DG
of Paganini’s Baroque violin virtuoso Of Liszt’s pupils, release is also called ‘Memory’. In her case
forebear, Pietro Locatelli. What she’s the Scottish pianist the subtext is mindfulness. But you don’t
come up with here is a strong offering, Frederic Lamond need booklet notes to understand the care
too: distinctiveness again, within an overall (1868-1948) was and intelligence with which these short
approach that sits mostly on the gentler, survived only by José Vianna da Motta, and introspective works are programmed
beautiful-toned end of the scale, as her who died a few months later the same year. and performed.
bouncing, mellow-toned No 1 sets up. A stalwart and reverent player, Lamond is A bagatelle by Valentin Silvestrov
Although not entirely, as you’ll hear often cited as the foremost exponent of provides a gentle, almost hesitant
through the peasanty fire she brings to Beethoven after Hans von Bülow and opening that dovetails easily into
No 5. Also worth highlighting is the before Artur Schnabel. One of his favourite Debussy’s Arabesque No 1. The
thought-through clarity of her part- and most successful programmes consisted Debussy’s sunny E major tonality
voicing: returning to No 1, listen to the of the Hammerklavier to open, followed by contrasts with another brooding
extent to which its lower-note melody feels Opp 110 and 111, and concluded with the Silvestrov bagatelle in E minor. Its dark,
like a sustained musical line, then compare Waldstein and Appassionata. This three-disc rolling left-hand accompaniment, in
that to Roman Simovic’s recent reading, APR set, including both acoustic and turn, relates to that in Satie’s Gnossienne
which rather hides this melody in places, electrical recordings made between 1919 No 4, where Grimaud’s phrasing of the
exciting and fast-feeling though his short, and 1941 is, to the best of my knowledge, evocative right-hand melody takes on a
sharp ricocheting is. the most comprehensive survey of Lamond shimmering, disembodied aura. She
Tempo-wise, Jacobs occupies roughly yet to appear. retains this fragile and austere sound
the same comfortable, instinctive-feeling Taken as a whole, these performances world at the start of Chopin’s E minor
ball park as other recent recordings have throw open a window to a bygone era, Op 72 Nocturne, releasing its turbulent
done, achieving the desired impressions revealing a musician less prone to what undertones in gradual increments. She
of speed and space without plunging into our modern ears might consider adapts a similar interpretative plan for
extremes. Indeed, measure and subtlety the wilful affectations of pianists like Chopin’s Mazurka, Op 17 No 4, and
are among these readings’ chief overall Hambourg or Paderewski. Yet Lamond Debussy’s La plus que lente, ranging from
qualities. Take the sombre No 4 in is unmistakably himself, with a strong veiled understatement to aching
C minor: opening pure-toned, vibrato point of view unambiguously expressed intensity. In the case of the Mazurka,
present but by no means throbbing heavily, in everything he plays. Interestingly, however, Grimuad’s dynamic build-up in
where she trusts the forte marking of those for those Liszt pieces he recorded more the coda seems forced and unnatural, not
low-register octave interjections to emerge than once over a period of decades, his emerging from what came before.
naturally without too much additional interpretation remains remarkably In contrast to the push/pull rubato
pressure from herself. Other pleasures consistent. And, listening to Lamond’s of Satie’s Gnossienne No 1, Grimaud
are the whisperiest pianissimo she brings powerfully cohesive, expressive Beethoven makes the famous Gymnopédie No 1’s
to the start of ‘The Trill’, No 6, and the sonatas, one can easily imagine the interpretative points through colour and
sophisticated mini-swells she brings fascination he held for the public. touch alone. Although Chopin’s A minor
in No 24 to the second variation’s Andrew Hallifax and Bryan Crimp’s Waltz veers on the slow and episodic,
acciaccatura’d semiquaver groupings, transfers face some stiff competition in Grimaud’s textural richness and sustained
making them sound like little flicks of the 2013 two-disc set ‘Rare Broadcasts phrasing compensate. She plays the
an impish devil’s tail. and Selected Recordings’ from Marston. hackneyed ‘Clair de lune’ with simplicity,
I suspect that if it’s beauty I’m after then That said, this is a compendium no one proportion and ravishing nuance, while
Ehnes will still come out on top for me; the interested in performance practice or Rêverie’s fullness of tone fills the room
cleanly ringing purity of his sound and the the history of piano-playing will want more so than in the work’s typical cameo-
sheer finesse of his technique are just too to miss. Highly recommended. oriented readings. As for the final selection,
good, and are also the perfect contrast to Patrick Rucker I find this solo-piano version of

72 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Soft-hued beauty: Lisa Jacobs finds expressive subtlety in Paganini’s fearsome Caprices

Nitin Sawhney’s Breathing Light far Danacord F DACOCD799 (79’ • DDD) dancing, bubbling gaiety, the prelude to an
more appealing and artistically fulfilling Recorded live at Schloss vor Husum, outstanding recital which included Pompa-
than in the rather cheesy quasi-New August 18-26, 2017 Baldi’s own transcription of Poulenc’s Les
Age arrangement I stumbled upon chemins de l’amour. Here, too, is the great
via YouTube. Marc-André Hamelin playing his
I may offend Grimaud’s artistic vision completion of a recently discovered
by saying this disc is perfect for calm This year’s disc of unfinished Chopin-Godowsky study (the
background music or a massage session. highlights from last Nouvelle étude No 1 in F minor), and his
Yet when you pull up a comfy chair in year’s 31st Husum own quite fearsomely challenging Toccata
a quiet room and listen to this disc with Festival (2017) on L’homme armée, commissioned as the set
concentration and undivided attention, showcases nine pianists playing the works of piece for the 2017 Van Cliburn
you’ll be well rewarded. Jed Distler some 20 composers. The joy of these annual International Competition.
compilations is not the geekish delight of I urge you to hear the young Russian-
‘Rarities of Piano Music 2017’ comparing the tempo and phrasing of one Lithuanian Lukas Geniu≈as in excerpts
Amirow Ten Miniaturesa – Nocturne; Lullaby pianist’s Beethoven slow movement with from a riveting – and, for this listener,
Babadjanian Elegyb Bellini/Thalberg Fantasy the performance of the same movement revelatory – performance of Hindemith’s
on ‘Casta diva’c Blagoy Fairy Tale Sonatad by another pianist, but of delving into the Ludus tonalis. Old-school charm and tonal
Chasins Prelude, Op 12 No 2e Chopin Nouvelle bottomless and inexhaustible treasure trove finesse come from Husum veteran Daniel
Étude No 1 (arr Godowsky/Hamelin)f Czerny of the piano’s literature. It is for some Berman. In fact the only performance here
Variations on ‘La ricordanza’g Desyatnikov mysterious reason – made even more below par is Satu Paavola’s stultifyingly
Rondo-Chaseh Dolina/Ziegler El vals del mysterious now by the easy access online dull rendering of Thalberg’s Fantasy
duendea Drozdow Scherzo-Valseb G Dupont to virtually any score – one that is still (so-called) on ‘Casta diva’.
Après-midi de dimanchei Grainger Irish Tune explored by only a small proportion of This year’s selection has, for a change,
from County Derrye JW Green Body and Soul the professional pianistic community. a booklet (candid, charming and in
(arr Wild/Berman)e Hamelin Toccata on So let us salute those who think outside occasionally idiosyncratic English) by the
‘L’homme armé’f Hindemith Ludus tonalish – the box and have been invited to Husum disc’s co-producer Jesper Buhl. As he says –
Interludes Nos 4 & 9; Fugue No 5 Levitzki to reveal those discoveries that have excited and as this disc vividly demonstrates –
Arabesque valsante, Op 6d Poulenc Les them. Pianists like the brilliant Italian- ‘Husum is the perfect antidote for the jaded
chemins de l’amour (arr Pompa-Baldi)g American Antonio Pompa-Baldi, who keyboard palette’. Jeremy Nicholas
Wagner Elegie, WWV93h opened his recital with Czerny’s La
e
Daniel Berman, aMisha Dacič, hLukas Geniušas, ricordanza Variations, made famous (though Find your
f
Marc-André Hamelin, dVincenzo Maltempo, slightly abbreviated) by Vladimir Horowitz. music on
i
Émile Naoumoff, cSatu Paavola, gAntonio What a daring choice with which to open a
www.qobuz.com
Pompa-Baldi, bNadejda Vlaeva, pf recital – but here it is in all its frothy,

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 73


CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS

Peter
Dickinson
Arnold Whittall profiles the English
composer whose music bridges all manner
of gaps in a positive embrace of diversity

A
month after Peter Dickinson’s 80th birthday,
Gramophone released a podcast (December 15, 2014)
of a discussion between him and James Jolly which was
printed in Dickinson’s latest book, Words and Music (Boydell
Press: 2016). Reviewing Words and Music in these pages (3/18),
Richard Whitehouse endorsed Dickinson’s own suggestion
that his concertos for organ (1971), piano (1984) and violin
(1986) (all now featuring on the same CD) ‘constitute his
most important large-scale achievement and exemplify that
resourceful integration of high art and vernacular elements
which will likely prove his most enduring legacy’. Dickinson resourcefully integrates high art and vernacular elements
This pinpoints the bracing effect of Dickinson’s music
in which allusions to the worlds of jazz or popular song has always been complemented by the less expansive (but no
can unobtrusively enhance those features of the ‘serious’ less challenging) spirit of Satie – a conjunction possible because
symphonic tradition that still predominate. Until recently, both Ives and Satie converged on a regard for the humanising
developments in the arts have often been seen by historians immediacy of popular music, whether hymns, musical hall
as exploring a single, crucial polarity – conservation versus songs or the ‘swung’ qualities of ragtime, blues and (for
innovation, qualities primarily associated with composers, Dickinson) the piano miniatures of Billy Mayerl.
painters, poets and all kinds of artistic creators. But a rather From his earliest extant compositions, now well represented
on disc, Dickinson has drawn strength from such well-varied
His modulating between styles is a model contexts. When this Cambridge organ scholar graduated
in the mid-1950s he might have been expected to move
that allows for many different kinds of smoothly into a career as a cathedral organist and choirmaster,
and a provider of church music in the Anglican tradition.
transformations and confrontations That was not to be. But nor did Dickinson’s relish for the very
un-English life of New York City while a graduate student at
different polarity – populist versus elitist – is gaining favour the Juilliard School lead to the kind of career mixing concert
today, and this shifts the emphasis from creators to consumers; music, film scoring and jazz pianism which Sir Richard
from the considered concepts of artists to the instinctive Rodney Bennett (two years his junior) would adopt a little
preferences of audiences. In former times, audience members later on. If Dickinson had stayed in America his openness to
might be broadly categorised as highbrow, middlebrow or the experimentalism of Cage and his circle might have led to
lowbrow, according to background and musical taste. Today, something as radical as Cage’s Satie-derived Cheap
even the most experienced music critics are less confident Imitation (1969). But Dickinson’s own Satie
about making such distinctions – especially when the elitist Transformations (1969-70), which, as the composer has said,
associations of ‘highbrow’ are no longer seen as automatically ‘brings together straight and jazzed versions of material
superior to the populist implications of ‘lowbrow’: and deriving from Satie’s Gnossiennes’, shows that working within
Dickinson’s music shows a comparable willingness to question a more mainstream environment than Ives or Cage can still
the usefulness of such distinctions in the modern age. produce sparkling and spontaneously expressive results.
In his review of Words and Music, Whitehouse follows up Dickinson’s involvement in the rapidly expanding higher-
a cue from one of Dickinson’s most important pieces of writing education sector in Britain after 1960 stimulated the
when he describes a music ‘modulating between styles’ – ‘high exploration of genres with a degree of community
art’ at one extreme, ‘vernacular’ at the other: a model allowing involvement, and what has proved to be his most substantial
for many different kinds of transformations and confrontations. work, a 75-minute musical drama for student forces called
In Dickinson’s music such strategies reflect the spirit of Ives’s The Judas Tree (1965), built around a text by Thomas Blackburn,
bracingly radical assertion: ‘Why tonality as such should be fitted with the tendency to move ‘music theatre’ away from
thrown out for good I can’t see. Why it should always be the opera house, as Britten and others were doing at the time.
present, I can’t see.’ Ives is the most senior of the modernist The survival of a (1967) recording of The Judas Tree from
pioneers valued by Dickinson. But respect for things Ivesian Washington National Cathedral, rather than from Canterbury

74 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS
dickinson facts (Philip Larkin) whose musical preferences were refreshingly
1934 Born November 15 in downbeat. Here Dickinson transforms what might have been
Lytham St Annes, Lancashire a traditional kind of song cycle – four settings for baritone and
1953-61 Organ scholar at instrumental ensemble often evoking the jazz of
Queens’ College Cambridge; Sidney Bechet and King Oliver – into a continuous structure
graduate studies at the Juilliard with 11 sections that involve speech as well as song. As the
School in New York composer describes it, ‘Each poem has a prelude; then the
1962-66 Staff member at poem itself is spoken to a minimal musical background;
teacher training college in and that is followed by an instrumental commentary’ –
London. Compositions include to which a wordless baritone line may be added.
The Judas Tree If the Walton/Sitwell Façade was an early demonstration of
1966-70 Staff Tutor, extramural how the formidable Schoenbergian template of Pierrot lunaire
department of Birmingham could be moved away from expressionistic melodrama towards
University. Compositions cabaret-style entertainment without losing all contact with
include Satie Transformations ‘serious’ musical content, Larkin’s Jazz made a no less
1974-84 Professor of music imaginative advance in generic rethinking decades later. And
in new department at Keele there are plenty of other Dickinson works that merit close
University. Establishes attention. Mezzo-soprano Meriel Dickinson has recorded the
Centre for American Music. strongly shaped early set of Auden songs (1956), along with
Compositions include String other vocal works, for Albany, and a recording of the eloquently
Quartet No 2, Piano Concerto concentrated Violin Sonata (1961), written in America, is in
1991-97 Chair of music at the pipeline. But the concertos and Larkin’s Jazz convey the
Goldsmiths College, University essence of the Dickinson idiom, avoiding extravagance and
of London overstatement yet offering challenging superimpositions and
1997-2004 Head of music, juxtapositions that rarely settle into predictable, conventionally
Institute of United States integrated modes of expression. With its direct, unfussy
Studies, University of London manner and positive embrace of diversity and even instability,
Dickinson on music today this music epitomises crucial aspects of contemporary
or York, neatly pinpoints ‘The fertilisation of one kind sensibility. If listeners today are still happy to categorise
that degree of distancing from of music with another and the themselves as predominantly highbrow, middlebrow or
more local musical traditions incorporation of them into lowbrow, Dickinson’s music has much to offer all of them.
that has remained a distinctive a new stylistic homogeneity is
Dickinson feature down the fascinating and positive. That’s RECORDINGS OF DICKINSON
years. Despite his progression the way life is and it’s what we’re Style-modulation in action in a wide range of genres
through increasingly senior doing’ (interview with James
academic positions at the Jolly, in Words and Music) Mass of the Apocalypse. Larkin’s Jazz
universities of Birmingham, Various artists
Keele and London (Goldsmiths), Naxos (6/10)
his activities as performer, composer and writer signalled This selection of vocal and instrumental works
a pragmatic flair for fresh ways of responding constructively centres on the telling contrast between the
(which does not mean uncritically) to the kind of burgeoning highly dramatic Mass (juxtaposing the liturgy with the Book of
stand-offs between elitism and populism to be found at Revelation) and the secular world of Philip Larkin’s poetry (spoken
their most elaborate in the concertos and the String Quartet rather than sung, but given musical backing and commentary
No 2 (1975). evoking jazz legend Sidney Bechet).
The repertoire included on the various recordings issued Piano Music
and reissued over the past few years fills out the coverage of Peter Dickinson pf
how Dickinson has used vernacular allusions to give fresh Naxos (2/12)
point and purpose to those ‘high art’ qualities always at the Spanning the near half-century from 1957 to
heart of his musical language – qualities that acknowledge the 2004, this is the composer’s own definitive
example of his mentor Lennox Berkeley. Though comparable compilation of pieces that highlight his fascination with how such
in some respects to Robin Holloway and David Matthews, genres as ragtime and blues can comfortably and occasionally
and foreshadowing the likes of Mark-Anthony Turnage and provocatively coexist with the more sober qualities of classical
Tansy Davies, Dickinson has shown resourceful commitment concert music.
to his own special musical contexts, and two works from the Three Concertos
1980s are particularly memorable in this respect. Chloë Hanslip vn Howard Shelley pf Jennifer Bate org
The Violin Concerto was written in memory of Ralph BBC SO / David Atherton; BBC NOW / Clark Rundell
Holmes, a violinist with whom Dickinson often performed, Heritage (1/15)
and analogies with Berg’s concerto-as-instrumental-requiem All three concertos ring ear-teasing changes
are far from irrelevant. Dickinson offers notably edgy on generic conventions, with the soloists questioning their
perspectives not just on Beethoven’s Spring Sonata (transformed independence from the orchestra as consistently as they ponder
at one point into a 1930s-style pop song) but also on the connections and disconnections between classical and popular
complex feelings of sadness and warmth that arise in styles. The disc also includes the Beatles-inspired Merseyside Echoes.
remembering a valued colleague. Larkin’s Jazz (1989) is
a more detached yet still affectionate tribute to a popular poet

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 75


Vocal
Mark Pullinger listens to Janáček Andrew Achenbach takes a very
from the late Jiří Bělohlávek: English walk with Ivor Gurney:
‘Bělohlávek gets under the skin of this music, ‘Sarah Connolly teams up with Tenebrae to
drawing out its folk roots and speech rhythms, give a performance of breathtaking composure
and its sheer humanity’ REVIEW ON PAGE 80 and atmosphere’ REVIEW ON PAGE 87

Allain O Day-spring and I also enjoyed the this nature and length in the modern
The Beloved. Cana’s Guest. Don’t you weep nod towards Fauré in the delicious A Prayer digital era.
when I am gone. God be in my head. If music of St Richard of Chichester for two-part upper We celebrate it here with many of
be the food of love. The Lord reigns (Psalm 93). voices and organ. Suzuki’s finest qualities of expressive
The Magi’s Gifts. The Norwich Service. Of all the music recorded here, the lucidity, unforced coherence and the
O Day-spring. A Perfect Friend. A Prayer of 14-minute Videte miraculum (a reworking quiet nobility of one serving the music
St Richard of Chichester. Videte miraculum. of Tallis’s piece of the same name) is the as the most natural of reflexes. Cantata
Welcome, all wonders only piece which seems over-long, which No 30a is a welcome serenata (to the
Choir of Merton College, Oxford / cannot be said of the disc’s final track, new ‘landlord, liege and judge’ of the
Benjamin Nicholas with Alex Little, Tom The Lord reigns (taken from a longer district) formed of five exquisite arias
Fetherstonhaugh org Finn McEwan ssax nine-movement Vespers of 2011). Its and framed by a buoyantly direct
Delphian F DCD34207 (64’ • DDD • T/t) rhythmically vigorous concision rounds chorus. The cantata appears 15 or so
off a stimulating and beautifully sung years later as a sacred parody for the
collection, which connoisseurs of the feast of St John the Baptist (‘Freue
great British choral heritage should dich’) – a superb example of Bach’s
Half of the tracks on rush to buy. uncanny ability to recast material and
this splendid disc are Malcolm Riley effortlessly shape it afresh without
premiere recordings. suspicion of previous provenance.
For his texts the JS Bach With all the soloists taking their turn
English composer Richard Allain (b1965) ‘Secular Cantatas, Vol 10 – to praise the incumbent, Dominik Wörner
has selected widely, ranging from the Cantatas of Contentment’ does so with rather less of the nonchalant
Psalms, through the Sarum Primer Cantatas – No 30a, Angenehmes Wiederau, fluidity and resonance of his seasoned
of 1538 to Crawshaw, Shakespeare, freue dich in deinen Auena; No 204, Ich bin predecessor Peter Kooij. However, Robin
RL Stevenson and his brother, the in mir vergnügtb Blaze – representing the allegory of ‘good
poet Thomas Allain. His approach to ab
Carolyn Sampson sop aRobin Blaze counterten fortune’ – lightly glides through his
word-setting is always acutely responsive, a
Makoto Sakurada ten aDominik Wörner bass picture of unequivocal goodwill with
bringing a welcome freshness to classic Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki customary panache. Most consistently
verses as well as standards such as BIS F Í BIS2351 (66’ • DDD/DSD • T/t) satisfying in the secular volumes has
If music be the food of love (2015) and been Suzuki’s radiant instrumental
the ‘Norwich’ Evening Canticles. These contributions, affording these works a
latter pieces provide some of the most kind of genial ‘outdoors’ sensibility,
arresting music on the disc, especially the This release represents perhaps most striking of all in Vol 8
ecstatic organ part in the Magnificat and the end of an era, and (Nos 206 and 215 – 8/17).
the intense baritone solo from Patrick not just the end of Carolyn Sampson’s ever-inspiring
Keefe in the Nunc dimittis. The richest Bach Collegium contributions close the project with Ich
harmonic palette is reserved for the Japan’s long-running series of all the bin in mir vernügt, a little-known solo
gorgeous wedding anthem Cana’s Guest, sacred and secular cantatas which launched soprano cantata compared to the
Allain’s most-performed work, which in 1995 like a shining bolt from the east. Nos 51, 199 and 210s of this world.
unfurls with a spellbinding intensity, and Masaaki Suzuki began his voyage at a While the text is decidedly prolix,
the daring treatment of the spiritual time when Ton Koopman was embarking Bach’s dogged transformational instincts
Don’t you weep. on his equivalent project, and with John provide the kind of liquid vocalisation
A preponderance of slow unaccompanied Eliot Gardiner continuing a series for DG upon which Sampson thrives. Just when
music allows the listener to luxuriate in soon to become subsumed by his one thought it impossible to hear Bach
and enjoy the core strength of Benjamin Pilgrimage over the course of the sung any better than in her recent
Nicholas’s Merton College choir, with Millennial year. And – lest one forget – performance of No 105 (arr Schumann
its solid bass section and sufficient choral the hit-and-miss, budget complete – Ondine, 8/18), she brings an Arcadian
weight to cope with the wide dynamic recordings under Pieter Jan Leusink on coloration to ‘Meine Seele sei vernügt’,
range that so much of Allain’s music Brilliant Classics were also in full swing. placing her among the finest exponents
demands. Finn McEwan’s soprano The partnership of BIS (namely Robert on record of this composer’s peerlessly
saxophone comes as a pleasant timbral von Bahr) and BCJ could indeed be one demanding soprano-writing.
addition in the Advent antiphon of the very last recording investments of Jonathan Freeman-Attwood

76 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

The Choir of Merton College, Oxford, under Benjamin Nicholas luxuriate in the harmonic palette of Richard Allain’s music

L Boulanger the right nasal, slightly pinched tone R Dale


Cortège. D’un jardin clair. D’un vieux jardin. for the idiom. ‘Requiem for my Mother’
Hymne au Soleila. Pendant la tempêtea. Pour Standout solos are more variable Materna Requiema. When Music Soundsb
les funérailes d’un soldata. Prelude in D flat. but I enjoyed Sonja Buhler’s vibrant, a
Louise Alder, bNazan Fikret sop aTrystan ten
Psaume XXIVa. Renouveaua. Les Sirènesa. Soir forwardly projected soprano to introduce a
Hannah Dienes-Williams, aEdward Hyde trebs
sur la plainea. La sourcea. Sous-boisa. Soleils another of the composer’s extended a
Kantos Chamber Choir; bThe Cantus Ensemble;
de septembrea. Vieille prière bouddhiquea poetic settings from 1911-12, Soir sur a
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Clark
a
Orpheus Vocal Ensemble / Michael Alber with la plaine. Light and landscape prick Rundell; bThe Studio Orchestra / Jeff Atmajian
Antonii Baryshevskyi pf Boulanger’s imagination; and when she Decca F 483 4076DH (73’ • DDD • T)
Carus F CARUS83 489 (79’ • DDD • T/t) moves on from the technique of clusters
and pedal-points that bring distant Asia to
mind in the way of Ravel’s Shéhérazade,
she can also spin a voluptuous melody, Rebecca Dale’s debut
Evoking spaces and clouded with Wagnerian chromatics as album arrives with
possibly rituals well well as progressions inherited from her much fanfare and
beyond the shores teacher Fauré in the case of Les Sirènes. publicity, with her
of Europe within its By and large, as I said: four of these new label proclaiming that she is ‘the first
three minutes, the D flat piano Prelude pieces were conceived with a full-orchestral female composer to sign to Decca Classics’.
sets the tone for an album of mystery and texture, and for all his skill Baryshevskyi is (Decca, where have you been?) In the face
enchantment that by and large makes a no match for the drums and sarrusophone of such assertive public promotion, it is
persuasive case for Lili Boulanger as one that lend so noble a tread to the extended perhaps somewhat ironic that the main
of the significant might-have-beens in obsequy Pour les funérailles d’un soldat – also work on display here is, in the composer’s
post-Romantic French music. Without predating the Great War – or the brassy, own words, ‘a very personal piece’. Dale’s
undue washes of pedal but aided by a fairly hieratic splendour of late works such as mother died in 2010. Writing the Materna
P H O T O G R A P H Y: R I C H A R D A L L A I N

enveloping acoustic, the pianist Antonii the Vielle prière bouddhique and setting of Requiem thus served a cathartic function.
Baryshevskyi also offers limpid support to Psalm 24. To these better-known and more The work was also a way for Dale to build
a German ensemble of professional voices distinctive examples of Boulanger’s craft, a bridge back to her mother.
in the album’s significant premiere on Igor Markevitch (EMI, 8/92 – nla) and John Couched in a highly accessible language,
record, Soleils de septembre. Their diction Eliot Gardiner (DG, 11/02) bring unrivalled Materna Requiem is likely to build further
overcomes a backward microphone vigour and authority. bridges for the composer, especially among
placing, and their tenors, in consort, have Peter Quantrill Classic FM listeners. One need look no

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 77


VOCAL REVIEWS

further than the Requiem’s main theme. of man’s inhumanity to man are thrown
Heard for the first time a minute or so into into relief by the power of the human spirit
the Introit, a slowly rising modally inflected to rise above circumstance, the theme of
melody moves against a steadily falling line ‘Invictus’ and the conclusion of this work. Modern guitarists
in the bass. The theme reappears Goodall approaches the challenge of this and listeners will be
throughout the work, functioning as yet diverse writing in the manner in which he most familiar with
another musical bridge. Echoes of the is universally celebrated: as a composer the music of blind
consonant choral style of Eric Whitacre, who is unashamedly in love with music’s Apulian lutenist and composer Giacomo
Paul Mealor and Patrick Hawes are never abiding values of melody and harmony. Gorzanis (c1530-c1575) through the
far away, often appearing alongside The opening movement wears its heart arrangements of the 19th-century Italian
rhythmic bursts of energy and colourful on its sleeve, with the tenor’s joyous cries musicologist Oscar Chilesotti and others.
splashes of sound one associates with the of ‘Gethsemane’ ringing out above the In more recent times, Gorzanis’s lute music
film soundtracks of John Williams and ensemble. The tenor, Mark Dobell, catches has appeared in recitals by such modern
Howard Shore. the idiom admirably, couched between masters of the lute as Jakob Lindberg. This
Perhaps Dale’s masterstroke is that English choral tradition and West End extraordinary release is, however, perhaps
she manages to blend these two elements. musical. He is entirely believable with the first to bring Gorzanis’s instrumental
Unsurprisingly for a composer whose main his fervent delivery of the lines ‘I am the and vocal music so comprehensively to life.
commissions up until now have been for master of my fate / I am the captain of my Colourful, imaginative arrangements for
film and TV, there’s a strong visual quality soul’ from ‘Invictus’ and in his boyish an ensemble comprising lutes, guitar,
to the music throughout, also heard in the enthusiasm in Goodall’s gospel-style colascione, gamba, dulcimer and percussion
other work on this disc, the more overtly setting of Yeats’s ‘The Lake Isle of of some of Gorzanis’s songs and dances are
programmatic When Music Sounds. If Innisfree’. He takes command too in interspersed with lute solos and songs
Verdi’s Requiem is operatic in its visual ‘Easter Hymn’, a poem by AE Housman, merely with lute or gamba accompaniment.
power, Dale’s is predominantly filmic. It where his solo could well have stood alone. The ensemble is the Slovenian early
might be going a step too far to describe Soprano Kirsty Hopkins, most true in music band La Lyra. The vocalist is the
the Materna Requiem as a soundtrack to a timbre, is very touching in the setting of Puglian tenor and actor Pino De Vittorio.
film that doesn’t exist; but whether it will Christina Rossetti’s ‘Song of Mary Overseeing proceedings as artistic director is
stand the test of time, as Verdi’s Requiem Magdalene’, her gorgeous voice endearingly the protean lutenist and guitarist Bor Zuljan.
has done, remains to be seen. Pwyll ap Siôn caressing Goodall’s lovely new setting of Together they not so much make music as
‘When I survey the wondrous Cross’ with smash the joint, such is the extrovert nature
H Goodall which this movement concludes. Her other of the bulk of the songs, regardless of
Invictus: A Passion main solo is the slave ‘Lamentation’, a shade whether the singer is complaining about a
Kirsty Hopkins sop Mark Dobell ten less inspired as a setting, the title more in deceptive procuress or bragging about the
Christ Church Cathedral Choir; evidence in the heartfelt introduction on conquest of a ‘pink-cheeked, rotund maid’.
Lanyer Ensemble / Stephen Darlington piano and cello, poignantly realised by The programme opens deceptively
Coro Connections F COR16165 (58’ • DDD • T/t) Clive Driskill-Smith and Jane Fenton. morosely, with ‘Da che si part’il sol’, a
Other members of the Lanyer Ensemble wretched lover’s lament. But things heat
include two string quartets, two horns, up pretty quickly, with scathing saltarellos
double bass and soprano saxophone, and vituperative villanellas tumbling one
Invictus draws its title often introducing each movement in a after another like players in a commedia
from the poem by solo role and adding colour and spice under dell’arte farce. Though, to be fair, there are
William Ernest conductor Stephen Darlington’s watchful moments of stately reflection, such as the
Henley, one of eye. Goodall’s scoring is luminous and slow dance of ‘Chiara più che ’l chiar sol’
the poets whose words are scattered expertly fashioned, though some may to drum and lutes, as well as graceful lute
throughout the nine movements of this find the saxophone too close for comfort solos such as the Recercar secondo and
fresh look at the Passion of Christ by (though not out of keeping within the Fantasia. William Yeoman
Howard Goodall, in which women idiom of the music). Darlington has long
predominate in his choice of texts. The been an unassailed interpreter of Goodall’s Handel
earliest of them is Æmelia Lanyer, a music, his Christ Church Choir a loyal ‘Abbandonata’
contemporary of Shakespeare’s, and it is custodian. I felt the Latin text in Agrippina condotta a morire, HWV110. Armida
her version of Christ’s last days, rather than ‘Compassion’, led by treble Daniel Kelly, abbandonata, HWV105. Figlio d’alte speranze,
the gospel account, that threads through required clearer enunciation, and in those HWV113. Tra le fiamme, HWV170
the narrative, looking afresh at such passages where the voices are in full cry and Carolyn Sampson sop
familiar scenes as the trial of Christ before where the inspiration stutters momentarily The King’s Consort / Robert King
Pontius Pilate, where we hear Pilate’s wife a steadier tempo would have brought the Vivat F VIVAT117 (75’ • DDD • T/t)
pleading for mercy for the prisoner. The text into closer focus.
fourth movement, ‘Compassion’, is inspired Nevertheless, one cannot but fail to be
by the extraordinary life of Irena Sendler, moved by a work that wears its heart so
a Polish nurse who, during the Second openly on its sleeve. Adrian Edwards With opera banned
World War, rescued thousands of children as a dangerous
from the Warsaw Ghetto; and the second, Gorzanis corrupting force by
‘Lamentation’, is an account by Frances La barca del mio amore the puritanical Pope
Ellen Watkins Harper of a slave auction of La Lyra / Bor Zuljan lute/gtr Innocent XII, Roman aristocrats around
children written in 1854. These testaments Arcana F A450 (57’ • DDD • T/t) 1700 made do with the next best thing:

78 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


The home of new music from the British Isles
‘The quality of releases is proof of how central NMC has become

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to the UK’s contemporary music infrastructure’ Gramophone

HCR19
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Bryn Harrison, Mary Bellamy, Monty Adkins
Bozzini Quartet
Philip Thomas piano
Sarah-Jane Summers iddle

Club Inégales
NMC D224 NMC D248
N NMC D246
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H
Huw Watkins Symphony
A
Alina Ibragimova violin, BBC Symphony Orchestra/
E
Edward Gardner, Adam Walker lute,
H
Hallé/Ryan Wigglesworth
M
Marsyas Trio In the Theatre of Air
W
Works by Hilary Tann, Judith Weir, Laura Bowler,
TThea Musgrave, Georgia Rodgers and Amy Beach
JJoe Cutler Elsewhereness
E
Emulsion Sinfonietta, Workers Unions, Fidelio Trio,
B
Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra/
M
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla
A
Andrew Watts A Countertenor Songbook
W
Works Tansy Davies, Raymond Yiu, Colin Matthews, CI003
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Michael Finnissy, Neville Bower, Joe Cutler Van Diemen’s Land
a
and Michael Tippett
A
Andrew Watts countertenor, Iain Burnside piano Sam Lee vocals
Notes Inégales
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Jonathan Dove A Brief History of Creation
B Symphony Orchestra/Josep Pons,
BBC
NMC D243 N
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Hallé/Sir Mark Elder, Hallé Children’s Choir
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www.nmcrec.co.uk/recordings Club Inégales and multi.modal.
@nmcrecordings Registered Charity no. 328052 www.nmcrec.co.uk/other-labels

This world premiere


recording of Alexander
Kastalsky's Memory Eternal
to the Fallen Heroes is the
second release by The
Clarion Choir and Steven
Fox. Written in 1917 to honor
those who lost their lives in
the First World War, it is ever
more poignant as the 100th
anniversary of the Armistice
approachesthis November.

Available on Naxos, naxosdirect.com


VOCAL REVIEWS

chamber cantatas for one or two voices for the empress’s explosive eruptions and has its impressive moments. Ale≈ Bárta
that were in effect unstaged operatic scenas. perfectly catches her mix of pride and dashes off the eccentric organ solo before
The young Handel, lionised by the Roman heartbreak in the final recitative. Minor the closing Intrada with delicious relish.
elite after his arrival in the city in late 1706, reservations aside, here is a disc that can The Sinfonietta is a joy from first to last,
found the cantata an ideal medium for be enthusiastically recommended to an unbuttoned delight. The low brass is
honing his melodic and dramatic fluency. Sampson’s many admirers and Handel great, rasping and grunting and belching
The 80-odd chamber cantatas he composed lovers alike. Presentation, too, is first- merrily at the garrulous woodwinds in ‘The
for his Italian patrons, many of them still class, with texts, literate translations and Castle’ second movement. Yearning strings
little known, were also to prove a fertile discerning, readable notes from Ruth come into their own in ‘The Queen’s
quarry for later works (Handel was the last Smith. Richard Wigmore Monastery’ and BΔlohlávek builds brass
composer to waste a good musical idea). layers expertly in ‘The Street’. This is
Carolyn Sampson and Robert King have Janáček a recording to challenge my current
come up with an appealing programme of Glagolitic Massa. The Fiddler’s Child. favourite – José Serebrier’s account
four soprano cantatas that range from the Sinfonietta. Taras Bulba with the Czech State Philharmonic Brno,
tragic, impassioned Armida abbandonata and a
Hibla Gerzmava sop aVeronika Hajnová contr in splendid sound and bursting with
Agrippina condotta a morire to the Arcadian a
Stuart Neill ten aJan Martiník bass aAleš Bárta org bonhomie on Reference Recordings.
Tra le fiamme, where poet and composer a
Prague Philharmonic Choir; Czech Philharmonic A second, shorter disc contains a fine
reflect on the Icarus myth with a light, Orchestra / Jiří Bělohlávek reading of the rhapsody Taras Bulba and
elegant touch. Sampson’s credentials as Decca F (two discs for the price of one) a comparative rarity: The Fiddler’s Child,
a superb Baroque stylist hardly need 483 4080DH2 (100’ • DDD • T/t) a ‘Ballad’ for violin and orchestra based
stressing. In Tra le fiamme and the rarely on a poem by Svatopluk Čech. It’s
heard Figlio d’alte speranze – a cantata that an atmospheric piece – a ghostly little
ponders the vacillating fortunes of King tone poem – and is given a persuasive
Abdolonymus – she sings with her familiar There are few more performance to end this memorial
grace of phrase and ease of coloratura. uplifting works in the to a great Czech master. Mark Pullinger
Crucially, too, she musters a true trill. orchestral repertoire Glagolitic Mass – selected comparison:
Beyond this, Sampson subtly varies her than Janá∂ek’s Prague Philh Ch & RSO, Netopil
naturally limpid tone in response to the Sinfonietta, especially when its opening (10/14) (SUPR) SU4150-2
dramatic situation. Words are always fanfares return in the finale, a burst of Sinfonietta, Taras Bulba – selected comparison:
clearly and expressively articulated. In big-hearted optimism. And this Janá∂ek Czech St PO, Brno, Serebrier (4/05) (REFE) RR2103
Tra le fiamme she duets airily with Reiko collection from Decca is uplifting in its
Ichise’s viola da gamba obbligato; and she own way, forming a wonderful tribute Janson
brings an infectious spirit to the pirouetting to the artistry of the late Ji∑í BΔlohlávek. Construction. Ky and Fair Madame Ky. Little
final aria of the otherwise introspective These recordings, made with his beloved Mother Globe. Nocturne. Sarabande. Sonnet
Figlio d’alte speranze. Only the jog-trotting Czech Philharmonic in Prague’s No 76. This is a great time to live. Three Poems
tempo for the aria ‘Pien di nuovo e bel Rudolfinum, date from October 2013 by Ebba Lindqvist. Whisper, Wind. The wind
diletto’ in Tra le fiamme raises doubts. to February 2017, just three months blows – where it wishes
Magdalena KoΩená, with Marc Minkowski before he died. Norwegian Soloists’ Choir / Grete Pedersen with
(Archiv, 2/01), realises so much more BΔlohlávek was the Czech conductor Alfred Janson melodica
vividly Icarus’s impatience as he anticipates of choice in this repertoire. Few will forget BIS F Í BIS2341 (66’ • DDD • T/t)
his first (and last) flight. his performances of Jen≤fa in various cities
Other singers, including Véronique Gens in 2016, guiding Karita Mattila through
(Virgin, 6/99), Emanuela Galli (Glossa, her transition from the title-role on to
10/07) and Roberta Invernizzi (Glossa, her thrilling debut as the Kostelni∂ka. While the Norwegian
10/06), have brought richer voices and/or He could get under the skin of Janá∂ek’s music scene lingered
more Italianate temperament to the two music, drawing out its folk roots and in post-war crisis,
cantatas drawn from Roman history. And speech rhythms, its soul-searching and attempting to absolve
at times – say, in the turbulent ‘Venti, truthfulness, its sheer humanity. itself from too many wartime associations
fermate’ in Armida – I wanted a fierier The main work here is the Glagolitic with Nazism by looking in every possible
attack, a whiff of danger, from the ever- Mass, given an expansive performance new direction from Darmstadt to New
accomplished King’s Consort. But in both of great depth. Like Tomá≈ Netopil in York, along came Alfred Janson. With
works Sampson charts a credible emotional his Prague RSO account on Supraphon, a background in jazz, Janson set the cat
journey, shaping her lines with mingled BΔlohlávek uses the 1927 version of the among the pigeons with his Valse triste
sensuality and pathos in the beautiful score prepared by Ji∑í Zahrádka, which (1970): a long way from anything
opening aria of Armida, abetted by differs slightly from Paul Wingfield’s Nationally Romantic, it had a jazz quartet
eloquent continuo-playing, and using the original version favoured by Charles play along to a tape of a televised debate
Italian consonants to dramatic effect in the Mackerras. BΔlohlávek takes a weightier about culture.
recitatives. If Sampson’s timbre is naturally approach than Netopil, rounded brass The booklet note to this recording talks
more suited to Agrippina’s grief and satisfyingly rich. The Prague Philharmonic of Janson’s music being ‘in the spirit of the
vulnerability than to her ruthless hauteur, Choir (repeating their services for age’ but all the choral-instrumental works
she finely manages the violent mood shifts Supraphon) are terrific but the soloists are here feel timeless, refreshing and sincere,
in this magnificent cantata, where one mixed. The bass lacks the necessary power while many of them are notably bold.
section tumbles intemperately into the but Hibla Gerzmava soars in the soprano Their rigorous simplicity is often tied up
next. She musters ample depth of tone lines and the robust tenor of Stuart Neill in those things. Janson always uses a unison

80 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

Grace of phrase and ease of coloratura: Carolyn Sampson sings four of Handel’s soprano cantatas with The King’s Consort and Robert King

unless there is good reason not to. He The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir have considerable. Not only was he a fine
borrows beats and grooves from vernacular given us Sonnet No 76 before: it featured composer in his own right but he
traditions without the slightest sense of on their wonderful 2006 Shakespeare advised and influenced many of his near
awkwardness or debasement. His larger album and even gave it its title: ‘Telling contemporaries, including Chesnokov,
structures radiate that rare feeling of the what is told’ (Simax, 2/07). The Grechaninov and Rachmaninov. His
composer acting as nothing more than performance here demonstrates the liturgical style may be heard very clearly
conduit: both Sarabande (1995) and extra levels of finesse Grete Pedersen in the three pieces that follow the main
Nocturne (1967) – each a masterpiece – has cultivated in her ensemble in the past work on this disc, Miloserdiya dveri (‘Doors
weave their course with apparent decade. Construction (after the composer’s of thy mercy’, a work I have always thought
inevitability. The former is the longest signature work, Construction and Hymn for underrated and which here receives a
piece on the disc (12 minutes) but uses the Orchestra, 1963) tells you why the choir is performance that truly brings it to life),
shortest text (17 words) and there is simply named as it is. As usual, blend is exquisite, Ot yunosti moyeya (‘From my youth’) and
no other way it would have worked; if you intonation perfect and articulation the resonant Blazenni, yazhe izbral
listen, you know why. superlative. The only higher praise is (‘Blessed are they’).
Every word on every track is crystal for Janson himself. What a surprise and Memory eternal is not itself a strictly
clear, whether sung in Norwegian, Swedish delight to come across an 82-year-old with liturgical work, though all its texts are
or English. There is no better example than such an important, refreshing and honest liturgical in origin. Following the end
Sonnet No 76, written for the Norwegian voice. Andrew Mellor of the First World War, Kastalsky felt the
Soloists’ Choir. This is a lesson in how need to write a large-scale commemorative
to write a complex musical setting of a Kastalsky work. It exists in a confusing number of
text while allowing that text not just Blessed are they. Doors of thy mercy. From my versions, the most ambitious of which
to remain unfettered but to flourish, youth. Memory eternal to the fallen heroes uses texts in several languages and musical
dominate and give the impression of the The Clarion Choir / Steven Fox references from a number of religious
music hardly being there at all. That ability Naxos M 8 573889 (56’ • DDD • T/t) (not only Christian) traditions, but was not
P H O T O G R A P H Y: V I O L A S C H E F F E L

brings Howard Skempton to mind as a performed until many years later. Another
point of comparison; Pelle Gudmundsen- version mixes Orthodox and Roman
Holmgreen is there in the droll humour Catholic funeral texts and includes organ;
of settings such as This is a great time to live Kastalsky’s importance that recorded here employs texts from the
and in the ability to charge unassuming in Russian music of Orthodox memorial service exclusively
ingredients with overtones of profundity the beginning of the (though not following the liturgical order
and complexity. 20th century was very exactly) and is a cappella.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 81


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VOCAL REVIEWS

It is a deeply impressive work in many text ‘loud and clear’, as Machaut might consciously mannered than used to be
ways, beginning with an elaborate setting have put it. the case.
of the Great Litany, complete here with As this recital progresses one is struck The eight soloists (with high tenor
the priestly petitions, resonantly intoned by yet again with the sheer consistency of instead of countertenor on the alto part)
Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (the Triple Machaut’s art. Despite recognisable phrases now sing throughout all choral pieces,
Litany, the work’s 10th movement, is recurring from work to work, each piece reinforced only occasionally by 14 ripieno
also done this way). In the following has something to say. The Orlandos hit singers in tutti passages (for example, at the
movements, Kastalsky gives free rein both their stride in this series some time ago, climactic doxologies). Collegium Vocale
to his considerable melodic gifts and to his and collectively they gel wonderfully, Gent field about the same number of
talent for ‘choral orchestration’, perhaps though the solo virelais fare less well this instrumentalists as in 1986 but their
combining them most impressively in the time around. An occasional feature has constitution and application are
second movement, ‘Alliluya i Glubinoyu been to offer slightly off-centre insights considerably different – there are neither
mudrosti’. One of the highlights of the into Machaut’s style. Here, the three-voice bowed string bass instruments nor bassoon,
work is the fifth movement, ‘Molitvu rondeau De Fortune, which opens the violas da gamba are used instead of violas
proliyu’, a brief but heartfelt personal plea recital, is revisited at the end with a fourth and cellos, the recorders, cornetts (led
for salvation, though the closing ‘Vechnaya voice that was probably added later by expertly by Bruce Dickey) and trombones
pamiat’, a setting of ‘memory eternal’ another composer. Only the one stanza tend to play where the rubrics in
dedicated to the ‘warriors killed in battle of the later version is sung, which seems a Monteverdi’s 1610 publication demand
for their fatherland’, is also deeply moving. shame given that the impact of the fourth them – thereby making a more selective
The Clarion Choir, under the sure voice would be better appreciated with the and thrilling impact. The applications of
direction of Steven Fox, turn in a thrilling repetitions the form entails. It transforms continuo instrumentation (with an extra
performance, recorded with clarity and not the original’s lucid design into an almost theorbo) and manner of their playing are
too much resonance in St Jean Baptiste baroque jungle of counterpoint: subtler nowadays. The performing pitch
Church in New York. This recording exhilarating. Fabrice Fitch is higher, in line with scholarly thinking.
(together with its publication by Musica The only significant preserved element
Russica) represents the rehabilitation of Monteverdi is that Herreweghe still inserts brief
a major work, which nobody interested in Vespro della Beata Vergine plainsong antiphons before every large-
Russian music of the 20th century should Dorothee Mields, Barbora Kabátková sops scale concertato psalm and the Magnificat.
miss. Ivan Moody Benedict Hymas, William Knight, Reinoud Van Not a liturgical reconstruction, the chants
Mechelen, Samuel Boden tens Peter Kooij, Wolf construct architectural sequences of
Machaut Matthias Friedrich basses Collegium Vocale Gent / triptychs with a psalm, solo ‘concerto’
‘The Gentle Physician’ Philippe Herreweghe or hymn as their centrepieces.
Dame, comment qu’amez. De bonté, de valour. PHI F b LPH029 (88’ • DDD • T/t) There is judicious tightrope-walking
De Fortune. Helas! et comment aroie. J’aim miex between the disciplined unleashing of
languir. Je vivroie liement. Maugré mon cuer/ splendid sonorities (the trombones at the
De ma dolour/Quia amore langueo. Quant closing of the Magnificat pack a surprisingly
ma dame. S’onques dolereusement ‘Le lay Philippe Herreweghe’s visceral punch) and exquisite intimacy in
de confort’ 1986 recording of smaller-scale solo music performed with
The Orlando Consort Monteverdi’s Vespers impeccable skill. Reinoud Van Mechelen’s
Hyperion F CDA68206 (60’ • DDD • T/t) had an oratorio-style gently stylish ‘Nigra sum’, Dorothee
nobility, soft choral wooliness, stately Mields and Barbora Kabátková’s rapturous
measured speeds and cautiously deliberate ‘Pulchra es’ and Samuel Boden’s sweetly
rhythms in quick music. He fielded violas eloquent ‘Audi coelum’ (with sensitive
The centrepiece of on the inner string parts, cello and echoes from Benedict Hymas) are
this disc is Le lay de contrabass string instruments playing much exceptionally beautiful. One never senses
confort, a setting of the of the time, prominent bassoon on selected a dictating ego controlling proceedings;
longest of the poetic bass lines (eg the ostinato in ‘Laetatus there is a spirit of collective chamber
forms available to Machaut. Each of its sum’), copious recorder and brass doubling music-making from all participants that is
12 sections is a three-voice canon at the and prominent harpsichord continuo – classy, articulate and unerringly beguiling.
unison, a compositional challenge by although he had caught early on to Andrew Recordings of the 1610 Vespers are two-a-
anyone’s standards. The use of canon may Parrott’s argument that chiavette clefs in penny but very few have delighted and
well have been suggested by the text, a ‘Lauda Jerusalem’ and the Magnificat impressed me as much as this. David Vickers
meditation on the perils of trusting to require downward transposition. Selected comparison:
Fortune, whose wheel was a perennial Over 30 years later, Herreweghe’s Herreweghe (2/88) (HARM)
metaphor for the mutability of the human radical rethinking yields shaded flexibility D HMG50 1247/8 or HMX290 1247/8
condition; but the musical intricacies thus and kaleidoscopic dynamism. For a
generated – including changes of time demonstration of his evolved approach, Stravinsky
signature, unexpected cross-rhythms and try the precision, transparent contrapuntal Perséphone
syncopations – make this perhaps more detail and focused Italianate sonorities of Andrew Staples ten Pauline Cheviller spkr
immediately accessible to today’s listener ‘Nisi Dominus’, the streamlined and Finnish National Opera Chorus, Children’s
than some of Machaut’s other works in conversational ‘Ave maris stella’ and the Chorus and Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen
the form. The Orlandos show remarkable lively fantasy of the instrumentalists in Pentatone F Í PTC5186 688 (51’ • DDD • T/t)
staying power here, given the decision the dancelike Sonata sopra Sancta Maria – Recorded live at the Finnish National Opera,
throughout to project the music and all of them infinitely fresher and less self- Helsinki, August 11, 2017

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 83


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2016, then last year, with the same internationally) all paths lead to Jake
soloists, at the Finnish National Opera, Heggie’s dramatic song-cycle Into the Fire
where this superb recording was made. (written for her and the Alexander Quartet
‘A humanist Rite of His approach is pitched somewhere back in 2012) with preceding choices
Spring’ was Elliott between the steely solemnity of establishing tangential themes, common
Carter’s description Stravinsky’s own New York Philharmonic links and an assortment of moods.
of Stravinsky’s version (Sony, 11/57) and the more Most strikingly, DiDonato and
‘melodrama with dance’, composed in effusive lyricism of Kent Nagano with her collaborators here – the Brentano
1933-34 to a text by André Gide. One of the LPO (Virgin/Erato, 6/92). Orchestral Quartet – carry the colour of voice and
the great works of his neoclassical period, textures are clean yet sensuous, rhythms string quartet through the recital via
it has also proved to be among the most exactingly precise. The instrumental familiar Strauss arranged by Mark
elusive. Written for tenor, female speaker, solos, sometimes twining round the Steinberg and Misha Amory (violinist
two choirs and orchestra, it amalgamates voices like obbligatos, sometimes carrying and viola player of the Brentano four)
spoken drama, ballet and oratorio in ways the narrative forwards, are all beautifully and Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis, arranged
that make it both unclassifiable and difficult done. In lesser hands, the score can seem by Heggie himself. And the highest
to perform successfully. Its outings have episodic. Salonen, however, forges it into compliment I can pay all three of the
always been rare. a unified drama, in which not a note or arrangers is that it sounds as if those
Perséphone’s genesis was messy. It was word seems wasted. songs were conceived and swathed this
commissioned by the dancer Ida Rubinstein The choral singing, meanwhile, is warm way all along.
but the collaboration soured when Gide and focused, the counterpoint admirably Strauss’s ‘Die Nacht’ is more of a shroud,
took offence at Stravinsky’s decision to clear. Andrew Staples makes a fine it has to be said, DiDonato receding into
ignore his versification and set the libretto Eumolpus, lyrical yet authoritative – as its mystery and apprehension through an
syllabically: Gide subsequently absented good as Nagano’s Anthony Rolfe Johnson ever-whitening sound. Wigmore Hall
himself from the premiere, in which and vastly preferable to Stravinsky’s encourages intimacy in her Strauss, her
Rubinstein both danced and spoke the title- abrasive-sounding Richard Robinson. departure into ‘the land of love’ at the close
role. In the early 1930s Gide had publicly Pauline Cheviller, meanwhile, plays the of ‘Traum durch die Dämmerung’ (‘Dream
embraced communism, which he saw title-role with great sincerity, giving free in the Twilight’) magically invoking the
idiosyncratically as the active fulfilment rein to the incantatory quality of Gide’s ‘soft blue light’ which is all but visible in
of Christ’s teaching in the Gospels, and verse where some actresses are apt to hold the closing chords.
his text reinvents Homeric myth along back. She’s placed very close in a recording But whose decision was it to retain
religious-political lines by making that is otherwise immaculately balanced, applause at this point, where for the
Perséphone descend voluntarily to the but that is a minor cavil: this is an purposes of home listening a natural
Underworld out of compassion for its exceptional achievement, and the best and breathtaking segue could have been
suffering inhabitants rather than being recording of Perséphone that I know. achieved from the Strauss into the Belgian
abducted by Pluto. One can’t imagine Tim Ashley composer Guillaume Lekeu’s Molto adagio
that Stravinsky was entirely in sympathy sempre cantante doloroso – a passionate
with its stance. ‘Into the Fire’ elaboration on the words from Matthew’s
Carter’s description of Perséphone as Debussy Chansons de Bilitis (arr Heggie) Gospel, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful,
‘humanist’ is perhaps inaccurate, though FX Gruber Silent night (arr Brentano Qt) even unto death’ written when he was a
it is indeed very much a second Rite of Heggie Camille Claudel: Into the Fire mere 17 and only a handful of years away
Spring, albeit one which replaces violence Lekeu Molto adagio R Strauss Die Nacht, from death himself. There is profound
with the contemplation of ideas of self- Op 10 No 3a. Schlichte Weisen, Op 21a – No 1, kinship here with Camille Claudel, the
sacrifice and renewal: the priest Eumolpus, All mein’ Gedanken; No 2, Du meines Herzens hapless heroine of Heggie and Gene
both celebrant and narrator, presides over Krönelein; No 3, Ach Lieb, ich muss nun Scheer’s piece.
a spoken and danced re-enactment of scheiden. Morgen!, Op 27 No 4. Traum durch And Heggie plainly saw the curvaceous
Perséphone’s effective death and die Dämmerung, Op 29 No 1a (arr aMisha Amory Frenchness of the Debussy songs as the
resurrection, while a congregation of and Mark Steinberg) perfect portal into his own cycle, possessed
believers reflects upon what they witness. Joyce DiDonato mez Brentano Quartet as they are of a shifting light that is entirely
The work could be best described as a Erato F 9029 56421-9 (78’ • DDD • T/t) sculptural. Again, though, ruinous applause
‘ballet-oratorio’, comparable to the ‘opera- Recorded live at Wigmore Hall, London, violates the atmosphere at the close.
oratorio’ of Oedipus rex, with which it has December 21, 2017 In celebrating the tragic but significant
much in common: the use of framing life of the sculptor Rodin’s mistress and
devices to keep us at arm’s length from the kindred spirit Camille Claudel, Heggie has
drama while exposing us to the emotions it found a music which is in perfect harmony
conveys; choral writing that glances both As if anyone needed with the way in which Claudel’s sculptures
at Orthodox church music and Baroque reminding that Joyce move, or rather dance. His great gift (as
oratorio; the sparse yet effective orchestral DiDonato is nothing I have reiterated several times in these
writing. The dances, meanwhile, peer back if not an intuitive stage pages) is for finding the natural music of
through Le baiser de la fée, which Rubinstein animal, all of her recital projects are now words and here he does so in an especially
also commissioned, to the ballets of carefully conceived as pieces of theatre in seductive and danceable way.
Tchaikovsky and Glazunov. themselves, song choices shrewdly weighed The erotic reverie of the opening song,
Esa-Pekka Salonen is the most recent and tested for their collective and ‘Rodin’, encapsulates Claudel’s conflicted
conductor to champion the work, first accumulative effect. For this live Wigmore feelings, at once sensuous and anxious.
with the Philharmonia in London in recital (which I imagine was repeated Love and regret. The theatrical climax

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 85


VOCAL REVIEWS

in which she effectively shouts his name For this programme, ‘Melancholia’,
is immediately silenced by the sound they delve into an adventurous and
of her speaking it once more – hushed sumptuous moment of musical history:
and ambivalent. DiDonato catches that the 16th century’s own fin de siècle, The booklet is
ambivalence perfectly. A feverish ‘La valse’ which Geoffroy Jourdain dubs a musical confusing. It
hearkens back to Debussy, who knew avant-garde. Many listeners will readily reveals nothing
Claudel (though quite how well is a matter associate this period with the virtuoso about Trinity Boys
for speculation) and kept a copy of her Italian madrigalists – Wert, Gesualdo Choir or their conductor, prints a
famous sculpture of that name in his studio. et al – but Jourdain convincingly argues curious essay describing Durham
Most heartbreaking of all is the lullaby, for closer connections between such Cathedral by the Bishop of Bath and
‘Le petite châtelaine’, for Claudel’s audacious Italian lamenting and the Wells, who then goes on to identify the
aborted child. exquisite English melancholia of Byrd, origins of numerous sacred texts that do
She ended her life in an asylum and the Dowland and their ilk. For me this not feature in the musical settings, and
inspired little scena which concludes Into works incredibly well, painting intriguing then details the music in a different
the Fire recalls a visit Claudel received there connections between the extrovert order to that in which it appears in
from Jessie Lipscomb, an English artist chromaticism of Gesualdo and the the recording.
with whom she had once shared a studio. introvert density of Byrd’s consort The focus of the recording is the
‘Every dream I ever had was of music’, textures as well as freely crossing the Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Munich and its
Claudel tells her friend and Heggie’s sacred/secular divide. stunning Woehl organ. We hear a
music, with its hypnotic repetitions, The singers make a beautifully balanced tiny solo from that organ in a brief
underscores that sentiment just as it sound with impressive fluency across each improvisation by Lewis Brito-Babapulle
has done from the very start. This is style. I especially love the countertenors but its true glories are demonstrated in
a wonderful calling card for DiDonato. and their cheeky but knowing presence lavish organ parts to several of these
Small wonder she has become something in the intense chromatic moments of contemporary British choral works,
of a muse for Heggie. Gesualdo’s O vos omnes; warmer, but less notably Howard Moody’s Weigh me
The applause at last feels appropriate sure-footed than The Tallis Scholars the fire and Judith Weir’s ‘Love bade
and DiDonato’s two encores – Strauss’s (Gimell, 12/87). Here, and throughout this me welcome’.
‘Morgen’ in another arrangement by album, there is a pleasing tension between The musical centrepiece and,
Steinberg (where DiDonato doesn’t sound a consort blend and the vital quirkiness of according to the booklet notes, the very
entirely comfortable to my ears) and a individual voices. raison d’être of this recording is Graham
seasonal greeting (it was December 21) Perhaps the most impressive tracks are Lack’s seven-section Refugium.
in Franz Gruber’s ‘Silent night’ (arranged the recurring instrumental performances Described as being scored for three
by the Brentanos) – are still mindful of the of Byrd’s Lullaby, my sweet little baby separate ‘islands’ of percussion with
evening’s dramatic turns. Edward Seckerson ‘imbued with sad premonition’ and his choir and organ, this is a masterly piece
elegy on the death of Philip Sidney, of writing which achieves extraordinary
‘Melancholia’ Come to me grief forever. The juxtaposition effect, greatly helped by this truly
‘Madrigals and Motets around 1600’ of forward-looking and retrospective outstanding performance. David
Byrd Come to me grief forever. Lullaby, my portraits of melancholia are touchingly Swinson’s measured approach gives
sweet little baby. Tristitia et anxietas Gesualdo referenced in the booklet notes and in ample space for the unique instrumental
Mercè grido piangendo. O vos omnes (two both pieces I have been long preoccupied forces while judiciously shepherding his
versions). Tristis est anima mea Gibbons What is with the superb performances by choir’s reserves – the recording was
our life? Luzzaschi Quivi sospiri Marenzio Fretwork with Michael Chance (Virgin/ made live and there are moments where
Crudele acerba inesorabil’ morte. Solo e Erato, 3/91, 11/98). I never thought their a certain collective exhaustion makes its
pensoso Nenna La mia doglia s’avanza Tudino intimate, sinewy sound could be matched; presence felt. This is a taxing work for
Altro che lagrimar Weelkes O Care, thou wilt but here Jourdain’s pairing of serpent, all concerned but minor imperfections
despatch me Wilbye Draw on, sweet night. cornet and viols brings a gloriously rich do not in any way detract from its
O wretched man hue to Byrd’s music. To bastardise Victor intense beauty. Among the most
Les Cris de Paris / Geoffroy Jourdain Hugo, never was there such pleasure in enchanting moments are the lovely
Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2298 (67’ • DDD • T/t) being sad. Edward Breen dialogue between organ and
glockenspiel in ‘Fede e realtà’ and the
‘Refugium’ profoundly lovely choral chords over
Brito-Babapulle Organ Improvisation Dove glittering organ and bells in ‘Respice
Les Cris de Paris are Seek him that maketh the seven stars Harrold quod salvant’.
pretty hard to capture From Dreams Lack Refugium H Moody Weigh Effective as Refugium is, the
in a brief paragraph. me the fire Tavener Hymn to the Mother of God outstanding performance on the disc
Readers will recognise Weir Two Human Hymns Wilberforce The Song has to be a riveting account of Jonathan
them as the chorus in Bizet’s Les pêcheurs of the Shadows Dove’s Seek him that maketh the seven stars,
de perles, admired by Mark Pullinger in the Trinity Boys Choir / David Swinson with Lewis while the most musically arresting is
August issue, yet they have a much wider Brito-Babapulle org Michael Prager positive org Tom Harrold’s From Dreams for
repertoire and deliciously rampant musical Rainer Furthner, Thomas Hastreiter, Sabine three-part boys’ choir and marimba – a
appetite. This, their first disc with Pyrker perc combination which works extraordinarily
Harmonia Mundi, is to be welcomed and Stone Records F 5060192 780819 (64’ • DDD • T/t) well in this highly atmospheric and
I hope to hear much more from these Recorded live at the Herz-Jesu-Kirche, Munich, spiritually charged recording.
brilliant musicians in future. April 1, 2012 Marc Rochester

86 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

‘Shining Knight’ an almost shocking surge of passion at performance in 1949 by his Newbury
Barber Sure on this shining night Griffes Three ‘Glorie der ganzen Welt’ in ‘Schmerzen’, String Players with the soprano Elsie
Poems of Fiona MacLeod Wagner Lohengrin – which colours the rest of the cycle even as Suddaby as soloist. (Some three decades
In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten. its beauty ebbs away. earlier, the teenage Finzi had heard
Parsifal – Amfortas! Die Wunde! Die Wunde!; Nur The songs by Griffes and Barber are Suddaby sing it with his teacher Edward
eine Waffe taugt. Rienzi – Allmächt’ger Vater, tremendous. Skelton clearly loves this Bairstow, a revelatory experience which
blick herab. Die Walküre – Winterstürme wichen music, and his voice blazes with conviction made him more determined than ever to
dem Wonnemond. Wesendonck Lieder in Three Poems of Fiona MacLeod, where the become a composer.) Both Gurney’s 1925
Stuart Skelton ten West Australian emotions are intense and confrontative: motet for double choir Since I believe in
Symphony Orchestra / Asher Fisch Fisch does wonders with Griffes’s darkly God the Father Almighty and Howells’s
ABC Classics F ABC481 7219 (65’ • DDD • T/t) sensual textures, too. Barber’s ‘Sure on this sublime 1941 anthem Like as the hart
shining night’, relaxing the tension into likewise enjoy memorably poised,
wonder at the beauty of the universe, forms fervent advocacy.
a perfect envoi. It’s a fine recital that leaves More than half of the programme’s
‘All my life’s buried you wanting more – of Skelton singing 87-minute duration is devoted to
here …’ Stuart Skelton Griffes, perhaps, above all. Tim Ashley Vaughan Williams, launching with the
writes, quoting Oscar Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis – that
Wilde with self- ‘A Walk With Ivor Gurney’ toweringly original canvas which left such
deprecating irony, at the end of the booklet Bingham A Walk With Ivor Gurney Gurney an indelible impression on Gurney and
note for his first solo album. ‘Shining By a Bierside (orch Howells). In Flanders Howells when they first heard it in
Knight’, one suspects, is in some ways (orch Howells). Since I believe in God the Father Gloucester Cathedral at the 1910 Three
deeply personal – a summing up, perhaps, Almighty. Sleep (orch Finzi) Howells Like as the Choirs Festival. Short’s scrupulously
of what he describes as the ‘confoundedly hart Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by prepared, shrewdly paced account with
successful career’ that has established him Thomas Tallis. Lord, thou hast been our refuge. the Aurora Orchestra generates a most
as one of today’s finest Wagner singers. Yet An Oxford Elegy. Valiant for Truth agreeable unanimity of purpose,
his recital also contains much that is new. Dame Sarah Connolly mez Simon Callow narr dedication and passionate glow. He also
Of his signature roles we possess only Tenebrae; Aurora Orchestra / Nigel Short masterminds admirable performances of
Siegmund on disc, so this offers us a first Signum F (two discs for the price of one) SIGCD557 Valiant for Truth (a 1941 a cappella setting
opportunity to hear him as Lohengrin, (87’ • DDD • T) of John Bunyan’s words for that
Parsifal and Rienzi away from the theatre. eponymous character in The Pilgrim’s
In place of Tristan, however, considered Progress) and the 1921 treatment of
by many his finest achievement, he gives us Psalm 90, Lord, thou hast been our refuge
the Wesendonck Lieder, before closing with Here’s a nourishing, (which rousingly incorporates the hymn-
Griffes and Barber, whom he regards as thoughtfully compiled tune ‘O God our help in ages past’). As
embodying the post-Wagnerian tradition release from Signum, for An Oxford Elegy (a 1949 adaptation of
in American music. one of the keys to texts from Matthew Arnold’s ‘The
He’s in fine voice throughout, his which can be found in some lines from Scholar Gipsy’ and ‘Thyrsis’ for narrator,
tone shining and bronzed, his dynamic one of Ivor Gurney’s late poems entitled chorus and orchestra), it’s hard not to be
control often immaculate. Rienzi’s prayer ‘Gloucester Song’: ‘I walk the land my touched by the deep sincerity and sheer
is gloriously bel canto, as it should be. In the fathers knew, wide to distants blue / And quality of inspiration that course through
Lohengrin and Parsifal extracts, we’re aware summon all the tales unseen, the good what annotator Philip Lancaster aptly
of the wider contexts of narrative and earth lets them through.’ Commissioned by describes as ‘a rich, Samuel Palmer-like
character, so a sudden shaft of regret at Tenebrae in 2013 and exquisitely laid out description of an England-Eden; a vivid
imminent parting intrudes on the mystic for mezzo-soprano and mixed choir, Judith depiction of a midsummer idyll that is
introversion of ‘In fernem Land’, and the Bingham’s A Walk with Ivor Gurney more a state of mind than a reality’.
juxtaposition of his anguished ‘Amfortas! dovetails settings of passages from four Expertly supported by Short’s combined
Die Wunde!’ with the spiritual certainty Gurney poems with inscriptions on Roman choral and orchestral forces, Simon
of ‘Nur eine Waffe taugt’ reminds us of tomb memorials found in Gloucestershire. Callow delivers Arnold’s verse most
the immense psychological distance that The music effortlessly evokes (in the sensitively, but his contribution is not as
Parsifal travels during the course of the composer’s own words) ‘the sense Gurney stylishly integrated into the whole as on,
work. Asher Fisch and his West Australian had of time and people of the past residing say, the incomparable John Westbrook’s
Symphony Orchestra are finely alert in the landscape’. On this premiere extraordinarily moving 1969 collaboration
throughout to the ebb and flow of recording, Sarah Connolly teams up with with David Willcocks at the helm (where
Wagner’s music, so the concert endings Tenebrae under Nigel Short’s watchful the closing pages convey a lump-in-the-
feel unusually brutal, in Parsifal above all. lead to give a performance of breathtaking throat emotion not readily matched
The Wesendonck Lieder in Mottl’s composure, spine-tingling atmosphere and here – EMI/Warner, 2/70).
orchestration, meanwhile, have always palpable conviction. Overall verdict? If the imaginative
been a difficult prospect for tenors. They Connolly also excels in three Gurney concept appeals, this is well worth seeking
lie comparatively low, sometimes taking songs: ‘In Flanders’ and ‘By a Bierside’ (an out. Andrew Achenbach
Skelton into territory where the sheen especially powerful rendering) are heard in
drains from his tone, though there are Herbert Howells’s tasteful orchestrations, Find your
compensatory insights: fastidious attention while Gerald Finzi’s arrangement of music on
to the gloomy mood of the text; his use of ‘Sleep’ (one of the Five Elizabethan Songs
www.qobuz.com
a creepy mezza voce in ‘Im Treibaus’; and from 1913-14) was fashioned for a

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 87


WHAT NEXT?
Do you have a favourite piece of music and want to explore further? Our monthly
feature suggests some musical journeys that venture beyond the most familiar works.
This month Richard Whitehouse starts with a mid-20th-century masterpiece ...

Bartók’s
Concerto for Orchestra (1943)
W
ritten between August and October 1943, then does it justice, look no further than Iván Fischer’s version with
premiered in December the following year by the his Budapest forces. A work this wide-ranging suggests numerous
Boston Symphony Orchestra with Serge Koussevitzky, subsidiary routes. Here are just five of them.
the Concerto for Orchestra marked Bartók’s return to composition O Budapest Festival Orchestra / Iván Fischer (Philips, 1/99)
after four years during which illness and the traumas of self-imposed
exile made creative work impossible. Its five movements unfold
from a dramatic Introduzione, through the playful ‘Presentando 1 Personal precedents
le coppie’ (or ‘Giuoco delle coppie’), the heartfelt Elegia and Bartók Suite No 1 for orchestra, Op 3 (1905) Bartók latterly had
the quixotic ‘Intermezzo interrotto’, to an affirmative finale. a low opinion of his first orchestral suite, though this garrulous fusion
Harnessing symphonic rigour with sheer virtuosity, it remains of Straussian opulence with a Hungarian popular idiom redolent
among Bartók’s most representative pieces and a touchstone for of Liszt does anticipate his late masterpiece in several respects.
the maintenance of integrity in the face of tragedy, while securing Not least in its neatly symmetrical, five-movement structure, albeit
genuine and lasting acclaim. For a recording that more than here with a bombastic scherzo at its centre and little overall sense

1 4
Bartók Enescu
Suite No 1 for orchestra, Op 3 Symphony No 5

2
Lutosławski
Concerto for Orchestra Bartók Panufnik
Symphony No 3,
Concerto for Orchestra ‘Sinfonia Sacra’

Gerhard
Concerto for Orchestra
Husa
Music for Prague 1968

Holloway
Concerto for Orchestra No 2, 3
Op 40
Kurtág
Stele 5
Bach
Stucky Brandenburg Concerto No 1
Concerto for Orchestra No 2 in F, BWV1046

88 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


WHAT NEXT?

of evolution beyond the hearty opening theme returning at its


close. It’s entertaining whatever its stylistic limitations.
O Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra / Zoltán Kocsis
(Hungaroton)

2 Generic equivalents
Lutosławski Concerto for Orchestra (1954) Stalinist conformity
may have weighed heavily upon Lutosławski’s music of the
early 1950s, but his Concerto for Orchestra marries folkloristic
immediacy with technical panache in what was a keen riposte to
those wielding cultural power. Bartók is evident in its five sections:
a seismic passacaglia framed by a speculative capriccio and
energetic toccata, then in turn by an imposing intrada and
eloquent corale building to a triumphal apotheosis.
O BBC Symphony Orchestra / Edward Gardner (Chandos, 12/10)

Gerhard Concerto for Orchestra (1965) Fleeing Spain after


the civil war, Roberto Gerhard settled in Cambridge, where he From Bartók to Stucky, many composers have relished writing concertos for orchestra
evolved an idiom of increasing audacity. Not least in his Concerto
for Orchestra, a single-movement explosion of sonic brilliance for its understatement. Its first three movements are respectively
that reinforced his radical credentials. Nor is there any lack of contemplative, intimate then anguished; the finale’s setting of
emotional content; memories of Gerhard’s homeland being evoked a Mihai Eminescu poem (‘When soon I’m laid to rest’) duly
in passages of magical suspense that conjure a fallen Don Quixote. affording a serene benediction. This is essentially a requiem, and
This is a work exemplifying just what music can convey. a significant addition to the ranks of unfinished last symphonies.
O BBC Symphony Orchestra / Matthias Bamert (Chandos, 11/99) Pascal Bentoiu’s 1995 completion is the version heard in the
recording cited below.
Holloway Concerto for Orchestra No 2, Op 40 (1979) Robin O Marius Vlad ten NDR Choir; German Radio Philharmonic,
Holloway’s five concertos for orchestra run across his output as Saarbrücken & Kaiserslautern / Peter Ruzicka (CPO, 10/14)
might symphonies for an earlier generation. The Second has enjoyed
some notable advocacy, not least from the late Oliver Knussen, who Panufnik Symphony No 3, ‘Sinfonia Sacra’ (1963) As Bartók had
appreciated just how this work’s expressive excesses are tempered chosen exile from fascist Hungary, so Panufnik chose exile from
by its formal rigour. The compact and tensile outer movements Communist Poland. Establishing him in the West, Sinfonia Sacra
frame one where Holloway’s love of late Romantic effulgence is marked Poland’s millennium via three diverse ‘Visions’ for
at its most uninhibited, while being kept tantalizingly in focus. (respectively) trumpets, strings, and brass with percussion;
O BBC Symphony Orchestra / Oliver Knussen (NMC, 5/94) an expansive ‘Hymn’ then builds on the plainchant Bogurodzica
(‘Mother of God’) to a majestic peroration. Banned for 15 years in
Stucky Concerto for Orchestra No 2 (2003) With his roots in Poland, the work was accorded an ovation when Panufnik returned
Lutosławski and hence Bartók, Steven Stucky was a composer of just before his death.
no mean imaginative resource and technical finesse. His Second O Konzerthaus Orchestra, Berlin / Łukasz Borowicz (CPO, 3/12)
Concerto for Orchestra exudes such qualities in full measure,
its three movements taking in allusions to earlier ‘classics’ without Husa Music for Prague 1968 (1969) Karel Husa was a Czech
these seeming wanton or hackneyed. The result is as intriguing as emigrant living in the US when Soviet-backed troops invaded his
it is pleasurable, and one instance where receipt of the frequently home country during spring 1968. Originally written for wind band
controversial Pulitzer Prize was undeniably deserved. in 1968 then arranged for full orchestra the following year, Music
O Singapore Symphony Orchestra / Lan Shui (BIS, 10/10) for Prague 1968 is a charged symphonic suite, its use of the Hussite
chorale ‘Ye Warriors of God’ a provocative statement of intent as
it had once been for Smetana and Dvo∑ák. Husa pays handsome
3 Hungarian connections tribute to the city, which, as he latterly commented, ‘has seen
Kurtág Stele (1994) Most cryptic of present-day masters György [freedom] only for moments during its thousand years of existence’.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: S E AT T L E S Y M P H O N Y O R C H E S T R A / B R A N D O N P AT O C

Kurtág might not have been expected to write a concerto for O Los Angeles Philharmonic / Esa-Pekka Salonen (DG)
orchestra. His 13-minute Stele (‘Monument’), commissioned by
the Berlin Philharmonic, is his longest purely orchestral work,
its three movements evoking ominousness, catastrophe and 5 Where it’s coming from
resignation in music whose utilisation of vast forces is itself Bach Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F, BWV1046 (c1721) Bach’s
virtuosity malgré lui. Whether this constitutes a teetering on Brandenburg Concertos anticipate those genres variously defined as
the brink or dancing on a volcano is for each listener to decide. orchestral music way into the future. With its four contrasted
O Berlin Philharmonic / Claudio Abbado (DG) movements and diverse instrumentation, the first concerto evinces
traits both of symphony and concerto for orchestra. This latter
comes to the fore in a finale whose cumulative alternation between
4 European exiles types of motion set a precedent which Bartók fulfilled with
Enescu Symphony No 5 (1941; 1945/46) Drafted on the brink of comparable impetus in his Concerto for Orchestra more than
war, then partially elaborated just before (or maybe after) Enescu 200 years later.
headed into exile, his Fifth Symphony has a profundity the greater O European Brandenburg Ensemble / Trevor Pinnock (Avie, 3/08)

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 89


Opera
Andrew Farach-Colton explores Richard Osborne hears a revival
Edward Loder’s Raymond and Agnes: of an early Rossini rarity:
‘Richard Bonynge is an old hand in this area ‘Aureliano in Palmira has always sat
of the repertory, of course, and the performance somewhat in Tancredi’s shade, yet it has its
is mostly very good’ REVIEW ON PAGE 92 own charm and allure’ REVIEW ON PAGE 95

Donizetti ◊Y by a giant rock which doubles as the Recorded live at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna,
La favorite monastery of Santiago de Compostela and March 16 & 29, 2016
Veronica Simeoni mez.................... Léonor de Guzman the island of Leon, where Fernand has an Includes synopsis
Celso Albelo ten..........................................................Fernand assignation with Léonor. Costumes are
Mattia Olivieri bar..............................................Alphonse XI unfeasibly shiny and look cheap. Valdés’s
Ugo Guagliardo bass............................................. Balthazar direction is pretty static, betraying a lack
Francesca Longari sop ....................................................Inès of experience staging opera, but there are Robert Carsen’s
Manuel Amati ten.............................................. Don Gaspar some reliable vocal performances to enjoy. production of Agrippina
Leonardo Sgroi ten.......................................................A Lord Mezzo Veronica Simeoni copes well with (Venice, 1709), filmed
Chorus and Orchestra of the Maggio her key aria and Celso Albelo has a lovely, across two performances
Musicale, Florence / Fabio Luisi pliant tone as Fernand. Mattia Olivieri is a at the Theater an der
Stage director Ariel García Valdés youthful Alphonse, without quite managing Wien in March 2016, is a paradox that is
Video director Matteo Ricchetti the long lines in ‘Pour tant d’amour’. The simultaneously sophisticated and clumsy,
Dynamic F b CDS7822; F b ◊ 37822; Maggio Musicale’s new music director, often insightful but frequently vexing for
F Y 57822 (156’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • Fabio Luisi, gives a lucid account of ubiquitous clichés in its approach. Placing
DTS-HD MA5.1, DD5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) Donizetti’s lyrical score. only one interval in the middle of Act 2
Recorded live, February 2018 It’s unfortunate that Dynamic’s release displaces the original and careful structure
Includes synopsis; CD includes libretto faces stiff recent competition. Vincent and pacing of the three-act drama.
and translation Boussard’s Toulouse production (Opus Important features of the text are
Arte), another economical staging but with lamentably bowdlerised; the exchanges
Christian Lacroix’s stylish costumes, has between characters in the lead-up to the
Ludovic Tézier as a suitably aristocratic unjustly scorned Ottone’s soliloquy ‘Voi
Donizetti abandoned work Alphonse. From the Bavarian State Opera che udite’ are not only considerably cut
on Le duc d’Albe when the (DG), Amélie Niermeyer updates the down but also reshuffled to give Poppea
director of the Paris Opéra, action and draws terrific dramatic more prominence. There are some other
Léon Pillet, objected that performances from Elı̄na Garan∂a, unfortunate cuts, most regrettably the
there would be no leading Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecień. omission of Ottone’s lovely little continuo
role for his mistress, Rosine Stoltz. Instead, Both are preferable to Florence’s aria ‘Tacerò’ (a common mistake that
the composer turned to Eugène Scribe and pedestrian production. Mark Pullinger ought not be made). There is a predictable
they quickly revised the libretto of the Selected comparisons: subversion of the lieto fine presented by the
recently abandoned L’ange de Nisida, the Allemandi (6/15) (OPAR) final chorus: we see Nero ordering the
subject of which was … the king’s mistress! ◊ OA1166D; Y OABD7165D murders of everyone else and cackling
One hopes Pillet enjoyed a sense of irony. Chichon (DG) ◊ 073 5358GH2; Y 073 5359GH insanely as Rome burns – as if the audience
Set in 14th-century Castile, La favorite did not know that his becoming Claudius’s
follows the plight of Fernand, who abandons Handel ◊Y successor turned out to be a bad thing.
taking holy orders to pursue the beautiful Agrippina On the other hand, Carsen presents
but mysterious Léonor, who turns out to Patricia Bardon mez............................................. Agrippina characters, their interactions and
be the mistress of King Alphonse XI. The Jake Arditti counterten .............................................Nerone motivations with cleverness, wit and
opera was premiered in December 1840 – Danielle de Niese sop ............................................... Poppea flawless timing. The production juggles
with La Stoltz as Léonor – and has enjoyed Mika Kares bass ........................................................... Claudio political and sexual scheming, comedy and
sporadic success, not least in its Italian Filippo Mineccia counterten ...................................Ottone seriousness in consistently entertaining
version (La favorita). Stagings now, even in Damien Pass bass-bar .............................................. Pallante and compelling action that only resorts
Italy, favour the French original, as in the Tom Verney counterten ..............................Mago Narciso to superficial farce when it is called for –
case of this one from the Maggio Musicale Christoph Seidl bass......................................................Lesbo in Act 3 the successive visits of three
Fiorentino, a co-production with Barcelona’s Balthasar Neumann Ensemble / frustrated lovers hiding from each other
Liceu and Madrid’s Teatro Real. Thomas Hengelbrock in Poppea’s bedroom is hilariously done
One wonders what sort of budget the Stage director Robert Carsen (despite the cuts), and the next scene cuts
Argentinian actor and director Ariel García Video director François Roussillon to a fantastic visual gag of the despairing
Valdés had to work with, for his period Naxos F b ◊ 2 110579/80; F Y NBD0078V Agrippina watching it all unfold on CCTV
production is minimalist in the extreme. (179’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & footage (less bothered by Claudius’s
Jean-Pierre Vergier’s set is dominated PCM stereo • 0 • s) attempted infidelity than by her foolish

90 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

An opera to amuse and charm: Mayr’s Che originali! is aptly presented alongside Pigmalione by his pupil Donizetti – see review on page 93

son Nero’s botching his chances of being Holten ◊ Sommestad Holten, focuses more on the
named as the emperor’s successor). Set Gesualdo Shadows composer’s mental demise and musical
in an environment that is a bit like The Gert Henning-Jensen ten.......................Carlo Gesualdo imagination than on the murder of his
West Wing transplanted into Fascist Tor Lind bar ................................................................... Shadow unfaithful spouse, which Holten describes
Rome of the 1930s (Claudius is blatantly Hanna Kappelin sop....................................Maria d’Avalos as ‘nothing extraordinary’ given the social
Mussolini), a lot of the technical and Rasmus Kure Thomsen bass................Fabrizio Carafa context. That act does figure, and
artistic qualities of the production work Guido Paevatalu bass.............................. Duke of Ferrara dramatically so. But the presence of an
incredibly well. Ann-Christin Wesser Ingels sop......... Leonora d’Este elusive Nick Shadow-like character acting
Patricia Bardon plays the scheming Anders Jakobsson bass...................................... Fontanelli as Gesualdo’s conscience, confidant and
title-role with deviousness and sexual Musica Ficta; Concerto Copenhagen / Bo Holten musical assistant means we’re more inside
energy. Mika Kares’s Claudius is boorish, Stage director Deda Cristina Colonna the composer’s head than objectively
pompous, childish and nasty. Jake Arditti Video direction Cubus Film watching the events of his life play out.
portrays Nero with spirited animation and Dacapo F ◊ 2 110428 (114’ • NTSC • 16:9 • DTS5.0 We get a straightforward narrative in
comic absurdity. Poppea’s development & PCM stereo • 0 • s) which the three acts equate to three chapters
from shallowness and gullibility to Recorded live at the Funen Opera, Odense, in the composer’s life: his first marriage in
vulnerability and wisdom is acted November 4, 2016 Act 1; his second marriage (no murder in
wonderfully by Danielle de Niese (her Includes synopsis that one) and musically stimulating time in
singing is a mixed bag). Filippo Mineccia Ferrara in Act 2; and his return home, his
is a magnetic and versatile stage performer descent into madness and death in Act 3.
as the honourable yet naive Ottone; his We are shown a figure in constant
singing is occasionally hard-edged, but The year 2017 may have suffering, paranoid to the point of
an inserted love duet (rejected by Handel) delivered the first opera arrogance about his creative legacy and
proving the sincerity of his relationship about Claudio Monteverdi ultimately too obsessed with music to allow
with Poppea is sensitively done. Thomas (at least according to the meaningful human relationships to take root.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: G I A N F R A N C O R O TA

Hengelbrock’s full-blooded conducting of creators of La tragedia di Writing music about music is dangerous,
the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble has Claudio M) but this work by the Danish especially in the theatre. Holten doesn’t
theatrical acumen and is vividly sonorous composer and conductor Bo Holten, first just neutralise the problem; he gives his
whether sweet, dark, seductive or furious. seen in Odense in November 2016, adds to opera all its charm by rooting it in the
Although quick music crackles vigorously, a colossal list of operas that take Carlo music in question. His own specialist vocal
briskness is often at the expense of detail. Gesualdo as their subject. Holten’s opera, septet Musica Ficta appear as a chorus,
David Vickers to a libretto by his former wife Eva primarily occupied with straight (but highly

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 91


OPERA REVIEWS

idiomatic) performances of seven Gesualdo ranging from Straussian lushness to Ravel-


madrigals (mostly from the seminal Fourth like chinoiserie and lets the music breathe
and Sixth books) and two motets; the and flow, delivering Viennese Schwung as
drama is at its keenest when Gesualdo ‘My dear Richard! Here required but also a sense of line and a
himself, Gert Henning-Jensen, is railing you have your Tauber- passionate urgency that evokes Turandot
over the top of these works in his fulsome Lied!!’ scribbled Franz and Rosenkavalier by turns. If there’s been
operatic tenor. The rest of the cast are Lehár on the score of a more ravishingly played new operetta
‘standard’ opera singers too, while ‘Dein ist mein ganzes recording this century, I haven’t heard it.
Concerto Copenhagen (with added oboe Herz’, the showstopping Act 2 tenor aria Reservations? Well, Homoki cuts almost
and sackbuts to make it ‘Gesualdo-odd’) from his 1929 operetta Das Land des all the spoken dialogue and several minor
play an often enchanting score on period Lächelns. The point endures: this was characters. I’m uneasy with a concept that
instruments, born of the expression of the conceived as Richard Tauber’s show. Lehár erases Lehár’s librettists – all three of
time (full of spirited dances) but with a was writing for both the voice and the whom died under Nazi persecution – from
slightly freer harmonic rein and a touch of superstar charisma of one of the greatest their own work; it also creates non
stern Lutheran melancholy. Much of the singers of his era. For today’s operetta fan, sequiturs in the narrative, and reduces Mi
music is improvised to figured bass. chance would be a fine thing. and Gustl’s relationship to little more than
While the benefit of Holten’s experience So a release like this is enough to prompt a couple of comic duets. Homoki elides the
conducting Gesualdo’s own music is huge, tears of gratitude. If you own Piotr three acts, and the English subtitles are stiff
there is something occasionally odd and ill- Beczaπa’s 2014 Tauber tribute album, you’ll and riddled with typos. There are a couple
fitting about his English text-setting that have dreamed of hearing him sing the of minor intonation wobbles.
I can’t quite put my finger on (it may be complete role of Prince Sou-Chong; and But by telling the story almost entirely
the unease of hearing English words in now here he is, in this radiantly performed through the musical numbers, Homoki
such a distinctively Italian idiom). Even and gloriously stylish Zurich Opera shapes a drama whose emotional directness
with the frequent interjection of the production from Andreas Homoki. Let me will astonish those who think Lehár was a
madrigal group, textures can feel overly say at the outset that this is a magnificent mere purveyor of escapism, and which
uniform; but Holten knows how to achievement: a staging that lets the piece should make new friends for this troubling,
generate a theatrical climax and there is speak eloquently for itself, performed with genuinely moving masterpiece of Lehár’s
a thrilling one in Act 3 when Gesualdo a sense of style that’s faithful without being gorgeous late period. Operetta lovers,
is told he is to be sued. patronising. meanwhile, could hardly hope for a finer
As usual, Henning-Jensen is Homoki’s approach is to ground Das modern account. Richard Bratby
unflinchingly puppyish, in bright and Land des Lächelns in the aesthetic of its own
thrilling voice and wholly committed, but time. Orientalism is confined to Loder
unable to reveal much under the immediate Sou-Chong’s yellow jacket and the Raymond and Agnes
surface emotions of this complex character. glittering red cheongsams of Wolfgang Mark Milhofer ten ...................................................Raymond
He is well supported by Tor Lind as the Gussmann and Susana Mendoza’s costume Majella Cullagh sop ...................................................... Agnes
Mephistopheles-like Shadow and the rest designs. Instead, the visuals evoke a Andrew Greenan bass-bar ..........Baron of Lindenberg
of the seven-strong operatic cast. But given Hollywood musical of the early ’30s: top Carolyn Dobbin mez ..............................................Madelina
that the Funen Opera’s auditorium is a hats, tails and a sweeping Busby Berkeley Quentin Hayes bar........................................................ Antoni
black box, and the fact that the band is staircase on a gleaming black and gold art Alessandro Fisher ten ..........................................Theodore
effectively on stage, it would have made a deco sound stage. The curtain closes to Alexander Robin Baker bar ..............................Francesco
world of difference to have altered the separate public display from private Timothy Langston ten........................................... Landlord
lighting for this DVD filming, perhaps emotion – a central theme of this culture- Retrospect Opera Chorus; Royal Ballet Sinfonia /
even shot it in studio conditions without an clash tragedy, heightened by the mask that Richard Bonynge
audience. As it is, what we see on screen is Sou-Chong wears in his official capacity. Retrospect Opera M b RO005 (149’ • DDD)
relentlessly dark, colourless and punctuated I found the puppet-theatre styling of Includes synopsis and libretto
by many awkward comings and goings. Homoki’s Gramophone Award-winning
Andrew Mellor Wozzeck alienating but here the artificiality
concentrates the emotion. You see the
Lehár ◊Y precise instant when Mi (a sparky, sunny Raymond and Agnes.
Das Land des Lächelns Rebeca Olvera) and Gustl (Spencer Lang, a The title doesn’t
Piotr Beczała ten ...................................Prince Sou-Chong properly dapper comic tenor) realise that exactly trip off the
Julia Kleiter sop ................................................................... Lisa their love is hopeless; before then we’ve tongue, nor does it
Rebeca Olvera sop .................................................................Mi witnessed Beczaπa and his Lisa (Julia readily suggest an atmosphere of mystery
Spencer Lang ten ........Count Gustav von Pottenstein Kleiter) in a savagely sincere Act 2 finale. and romance. Yet, in fact, Edward
Cheyne Davidson bar ..............................................Tschang Kleiter’s singing has a really glamorous Loder’s opera is in many respects
Martin Zysset ten ............................................Chief Eunuch gleam throughout; together with Beczaπa quintessentially Romantic, with a plot
Chorus of Zurich Opera; Philharmonia Zurich / the pair articulate their emotional conflict that’s practically a catalogue of that era’s
Fabio Luisi as painfully and as persuasively as if they’re conventions: curses, bandits, ghosts,
Stage director Andreas Homoki singing Puccini. Beczaπa’s ‘Dein ist mein marksmen, sleepwalkers and rival suitors.
Video director Michael Beyer ganzes Herz’ is as wrenching as you’d hope; I would say that the title does at least
Accentus F ◊ ACC20435; F Y ACC10435 the pair’s earlier love scenes have a honestly reflect the awkwardness of
(103’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HS MA5.1, weightless delicacy and tenderness. Edward Fitzball’s overwrought libretto.
DTS5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) For that, of course, much credit has to go Take, for instance, the text for a chorus
Recorded live, June 2017 to Fabio Luisi, who brings out textures of bandits at the opening of Act 3: ‘Play!

92 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

play! fight for the game / The dicebox and exquisite orchestral colours. Loder Mayr ◊Y
manfully, manfully rattle. / Wine! wine! lavishes even more care in fleshing out the Che originali!
the triumph proclaim / Of him who character of the Baron, who is repentant Bruno de Simone bar......................................... Don Febeo
winneth the battle.’ Can we blame Loder for his misdeeds but desperate to end the Chiara Amarù mez .......................................Donna Aristea
for failing to make musical magic from curse through marriage to Agnes. The Leonardo Cortellazzi ten............................ Don Carolino
such inelegant verses? It’s not the only Baron’s recitative and aria in the first scene Angela Nisi sop ...............................................Donna Rosina
dullish number, but the score has an of Act 2 reveal his internal struggles in Omar Montanari bar............................................. Biscroma
abundance of magical moments, too, music that seamlessly alternates agitation Gioia Crepaldi sop ...................................................Celestina
which makes Loder’s achievement all and aspiration. And, indeed, it’s in Act 2 Pietro Di Bianco bass-bar .................................... Carluccio
the more impressive. that Loder’s dramatic grip is most sure.
Raymond and Agnes is based rather He gradually ratchets up the tension in Donizetti
loosely on The Monk, Matthew Lewis’s the confrontation between Raymond and Pigmalione
1796 Gothic novel, with bits of Weber’s the Baron. There’s a marvellous play of Antonino Siragusa ten..................................... Pigmalione
Der Freischütz mixed in. The story is so light and shade in the nocturnal second Aya Wakizono mez .................................................... Galatea
convoluted that I can only give the most scene, making what could easily have Orchestra of La Scala / Gianluca Capuano
cursory summary. The villainous Baron been a drearily clichéd Gothic spook Stage director Roberto Catalano
of Lindenberg wants to marry his young show into something richly atmospheric. Video director Matteo Ricchetti
ward, Agnes, in order to end a old curse, This all culminates in the brilliant yet Dynamic F b CDS7811; F ◊ 37811; F Y 57811
but Agnes falls in love with Raymond. delicate quintet ‘Lost, and in a dream’ – (145’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DD5.1 &
The lovers plan to elope but their plans the melodic lines seemingly floating PCM stereo • 0 • s)
are thwarted. Raymond discovers that the over flickering, candlelit clouds Recorded live at the Teatro Sociale, Bergamo, 2017
Baron was responsible for destroying his of accompaniment. Includes synopsis
family long ago. The Baron’s plan to have The performance is mostly very good.
Raymond murdered is eventually frustrated Bonynge is an old hand in this area of the
and the Baron himself is shot, leaving the repertory, of course. A few numbers
young couple free to wed. Oh, and at the sound under-rehearsed and I occasionally This is a very apt pairing,
end Raymond is reunited with his mute wished for a bit more pep – that bandit’s as Giovanni Simone Mayr
mother, who suddenly regains the ability chorus at the start of Act 3, for example – (born Johann Simon Mayr)
to speak. but the spirit is never in question. As far was one of Donizetti’s
The opera was first performed in as the singers go, Mark Milhofer’s teachers, who did much
Manchester in 1855 and ran for seven Raymond is the standout: sweet-toned, to encourage the younger man at the outset
performances. An 1859 London production ardent and agile. It’s been more than of his career. The latter’s Pigmalione comes
ran for 10, then the work disappeared until 20 years since Majella Cullagh recorded first on the CD set but it’s Che originali! that
1966, when Nicholas Temperley mounted the title-role in Wallace’s Maritana and is the more significant piece: not surprising,
a critically acclaimed revival in Cambridge her voice now shows obvious signs of as Mayr was already a mature composer at
(his is one of three excellent scholarly wear. She’s an effective heroine, however, the time of its first performance in Venice
essays included in the booklet). Richard and ably charts Agnes’s development from in 1798, whereas Donizetti was only 18
Bonynge, in a prefatory note, admits he was demure maiden to battle-scarred adult. when he composed Pigmalione.
surprised to discover such ‘skilful music’, Andrew Greenan’s tone can be woolly Che originali! was later performed under
noting that, if Loder’s gifts as a melodist and his legato sometimes leads to various titles, including La musicomania and
don’t quite match those of Wallace or ungainliness, but his Baron still Il fanatico per la musica. The story has echoes
Balfe, his dramatic sense is ‘first-rate’ commands centre stage. of Il barbiere di Siviglia – not Rossini’s, which
and his orchestration ‘inspired’. For anyone with an interest in lay far in the future, but, most probably,
The first number in which I sense 19th-century opera, this is a major release. the setting by Paisiello. Don Febeo, the
Loder’s inspiration taking wing is Kudos to Retrospect Opera for putting it Doctor Bartolo analogue, is a fussy old
Raymond’s Act 1 aria ‘Angels roam abroad all together – and in superb sound, to boot. father obsessed with music, while Biscroma
tonight’, with its ornate, flitting melody Andrew Farach-Colton (‘Demisemiquaver’) is the resourceful

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Monteverdi The New Recording
Il ritorno d’Ulisse
in patria
Gardiner Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists
Monteverdi’s great opera is a celebration
of unwavering devotion, conveyed in
some of the composer’s most poignant,
heartbreaking music.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner leads an exemplary
cast of world-class singers alongside the
Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque
Soloists in this live recording from The
National Forum of Music in Wroclaw,
Poland – part of their critically acclaimed
Monteverdi 450 tour in 2017.
SDG730
WWW.SIGNUMRECORDS.COM
Distributed by [PIAS] in the UK &
Naxos of America in the USA

Birgit Nilsson 100


In Celebration of her 100th Birthday

Photo: Alain Valtat © Adagp/ Bildrecht, Vienna 2018


Théâtre d’Orange, July 1973

Documentary Commemorative book 31-CD Box

BIRGIT NILSSON BIRGIT NILSSON 100 BIRGIT NILSSON


A LEAGUE OF HER OWN — AN HOMAGE THE GREAT LIVE RECORDINGS
90 minutes, film by Thomas Voigt English, 712 pages, 560 illustrations, packed Legendary performances from Stockholm,
and Wolfgang Wunderlich in a luxurious linen box Bayreuth, Vienna, Rome, Munich, Orange
and New York

birgitnilssonprize.org/birgitnilsson100 cmajor-entertainment.com vfmk.org sonyclassical.com


OPERA REVIEWS

servant. There is even a Rosina, but it’s very end. The music is attractive, with some as a vehicle for the famously flamboyant
her sister Aristea who is loved by the count, delicate writing for the woodwind. Gianluca 34-year-old castrato Giovan Battista
Don Carolino. Febeo rejects Carolino as a Capuano conducts both operas with spirit. Velluti. These days it’s a well-liked mezzo
prospective son-in-law because he can’t Well worth investigating. Richard Lawrence role nicely sung here by Marina Viotti.
play a single musical instrument. Later, The Zenobia, Silvia Dalla Benetta,
Biscroma presents the disguised Carolino Rossini though secure in her middle registers and
to his master as the new secretary; but Aureliano in Palmira vivid in recitative, doesn’t command all the
Carolino fails his dictation test, which is Juan Francisco Gatell ten...................................Aureliano firepower the character demands. But,
of music not words, after which he is Silvia Dalla Benetta sop.......................................... Zenobia then, this too is a curious role; a lovelorn
unmasked and expelled. Finally, Biscroma Marina Viotti mez.........................................................Arsace warrior queen created by Rossini for a
introduces the Count in another disguise as Ana Victória Pitts mez ................................................ Publia locally acclaimed Zerlina and Queen of the
the distinguished composer Semiminima: Xiang Xu ten ................................................................... Oraspe Night. It’s in Zenobia’s big Act 1 aria ‘Là
Febeo falls for the trick and immediately Zhiyuan Chen bass........................................................Licinio pugnai’ that Benetta is outshone by
offers him Aristea’s hand in marriage. Baurzhan Anderzhanov bass ......... High Priest of Isis Catriona Smith (Opera Rara) and by Jessica
It’s perhaps a little heavy to point out the Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań; Virtuosi Pratt, who uses Pesaro’s fuller text.
flaws in the plot: you would expect Carolino Brunensis / José Miguel Pérez-Sierra That said, all three principals work well
to reveal his identity at the end, while Naxos S c 8 660448/50 (167’ • DDD) together. There are also strong performances
Rosina, the hypochondriac other daughter, Recorded live at the Trinkhalle, Bad Wildbad, in the small but important comprimario roles
is virtually written out of the action after Germany, July 12, 14 & 22, 2017 of the High Priest (the Kazakh bass
her aria. Better to sit back and enjoy the Italian libretto available from naxos.com Baurzhan Anderzhanov) and Aureliano’s
piece as it pokes good-natured fun at the self-sacrificing daughter Publia (Ana
world of opera. When her father queries the Victória Pitts). Minor drawbacks include
style of her get-up, Aristea name-checks the some overweening fortepiano-playing in the
heroines of Metastasio’s librettos, to which The ancient Roman recitatives and the live recording’s distant
she is devoted: Dido, Semiramis, Zenobia … city of Palmyra has placing of the chorus at the start of the opera
Febeo compares himself to Pergolesi and been a good deal in and in the lovely pastoral interlude in Act 2.
Jommelli; for his contribution – an the news this past The DVDs of the distinguished Pesaro
accompanied recitative and aria – to a new decade. And so, curiously, has the young staging offer the more complete experience
opera on Don Quixote, Mayr provides him Rossini’s opera on the city’s conquest in but, at nearly a third of the price of its
with a parody of opera seria. In general, the 272AD, when the Emperor Aurelian, tired Opera Rara rival, this new Naxos set
music is of its time – like Cimarosa, of the insurgencies of Palmyra’s fractious provides an affordable introduction to a very
perhaps, and Mozart, including a quote of Queen Zenobia, decided to intervene. collectable Rossini rarity. Richard Osborne
Figaro’s ‘Se vuol ballare’ – but the patter Rossini wrote the opera for La Scala, Selected comparisons:
duet at the start of the finale looks forward Milan, at the end of a year which had Benini (12/12) (OPRA) ORC46
to Rossini and, indeed, Donizetti. brought him Europe-wide acclaim with Crutchfield (A/15) (ARTH) ◊ 109 073
Ilaria Ariemme’s costumes are that loveliest of all his early works, the
monochrome for the women, extravagantly heroic melodrama Tancredi. Though Wagner ◊Y
polychromatic for the men. The cast is Aureliano in Palmira has always sat Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
splendidly led by Bruno de Simone, a somewhat in Tancredi’s shade (no ‘hit’ Michael Volle bar.................................................Hans Sachs
comedian not unlike Alessandro Corbelli. number to match ‘Di tanti palpiti’), it has Johannes Martin Kränzle bar .................... Beckmesser
Chiara Amarù and Angela Nisi are well its own charm and allure, as is clearly Klaus Florian Vogt ten..............................................Walther
contrasted as the sisters, both vocally and in recognised by José Miguel Pérez-Sierra, Anne Schwanewilms sop................................................ Eva
character, and Leonardo Cortellazzi makes conductor of this appropriately alert and Wiebke Lehmkuhl contr.................................. Magdalene
a game Don Carolino. Add Gioia Crepaldi gracious 2017 Rossini in Wildbad revival. Daniel Behle ten............................................................... David
as the servant Celestina yearning for Aureliano is one of only three Rossini Günther Groissböck bass ........................................Pogner
marriage, and Omar Montanari’s Biscroma operas for which no manuscript survives. Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra /
on women’s infidelity – more like Mozart’s The new performance, like the 2012 Opera Philippe Jordan
good-humoured Guglielmo than his Rara account, uses the very serviceable Stage director Barrie Kosky
Figaro, despite the cuckold’s horns in the Peters Edition. It is a shorter and less richly Video director Michael Beyer
orchestra – and you have an opera, and a elaborated version of the opera than that DG F b ◊ 073 5450GH2; F Y 0735453GH
performance, that will amuse and charm. which we have in Will Crutchfield’s (4h 43’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.0,
Lasting an hour and three quarters, Critical Edition and on the DVD of the DTS5.0 & PCM stereo • 0 • s)
Mayr’s farsa per musica is a long one-acter. successful staging of that edition at the Recorded live 2017
Donizetti’s Pigmalione, a scena lirica, clocks 2014 Rossini Festival in Pesaro. Includes synopsis
up less than 40 minutes. Composed in The title-role is curious in as much as
1816, it wasn’t performed until 1960. Rossini wrote the first act for the young
In a sequence of accompanied recitatives coloratura tenor Giovanni David and the
and arias the sculptor Pygmalion expresses second act for a less gifted singer who In Barrie Kosky’s spirited
his despairing love for Galatea, his own stepped in when David fell ill. Juan but uneven 2017 staging
creation. She comes to life and they Francisco Gatell, a commanding Aureliano, of Wagner’s comedy there
embrace. Antonino Siragusa, in suit and tie, is equally at home in both parts. The role of are splurges of ideas. The
is an unlikely-looking artist but he gives a Arsace, a former ally of Rome, now Zenobia’s performance emerges from
touching performance. Aya Wakizono has lover, was added to the historical narrative the frame of a fictional at-home in
to act in dumb show until she sings at the by Rossini and his librettist Felice Romani Wahnfried where Wagner himself becomes

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 95


OPERA REVIEWS

are both strong and unguyed, while Böhm


Focus has the orchestra at a thrilling pitch of
both ensemble and wildness of colour.
BIRGIT NILSSON LIVE The Elektras, two of them, are hardly
less essential. The Vienna State Opera’s
Mike Ashman revels in the great Swedish soprano’s guest appearance at the 1967 Montreal
live recordings, superbly compiled and remastered EXPO starts distantly in what sounds
like a studio with the reverberation left
on, a strange cavern of an acoustic. But,
apart from the timpani, it is soon tamed
effectively by the ‘restoration’ engineers
Othmar Eichinger and Harald Huber
(their work is on most of this box-set)
and the ear adjusts. This is an early
performance of the role by Nilsson,
excitable and vengeance-filled (as is
her conductor’s), not unlike the Decca
recording of less than a year before.
Regina Resnik’s Klytemnestra is also
present from that cast to give a portrait
of the murderous queen to match her
original. The Montreal crowd love her
to the point of interjecting an ovation
when they think she’s exiting. The
remainder of the cast, Viennese
company soloists all, give palpable
special-occasion support. As recorded
Birgit Nilsson in one of her signature roles, as Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Ring at Bayreuth here, Böhm sounds more violent
and loud than in his other
Birgit Nilsson hear Nilsson in her favourite role traceable performances.
‘The Great Live Recordings’ alongside Jon Vickers. At the start here Nearly four years later the Met
Bartók Duke Bluebeard’s Castle Beethoven audience chatter and picnic rustling Elektra showcases another example
Fidelio Puccini Turandot R Strauss Elektra (two seriously rival Karl Böhm’s gentle first of the most thorough orchestral
recordings). Die Frau ohne Schatten. Salome placing of the famous chord. But after preparation and delivery by the maestro,
Wagner Götterdämmerung – Immolation scene that it’s all gain as both his conducting a more cumulative approach to the
(two recordings). Lohengrin. Siegfried – Heil dir, and the cleaned-up recording spread character by Nilsson and a peppy
Sonne!. Tristan und Isolde (three recordings). themselves to accommodate the Orange contribution by an obviously inspired
Tristan und Isolde – Liebestod. Die Walküre. Die acoustic in a performance worth acquiring Thomas Stewart. The smaller roles
Walküre – Schlafst du, Gast? Ich bin’s! now despite local difficulties. You can lack the familiar confidence of their
Birgit Nilsson sop hear now, alongside the heroics, how Viennese equivalents in Montreal
Sony Classical S (31 discs) 88985 39232-2 sensitive, romantic and pained Vickers’s although an apparently sick Jean
Recorded 1953-76 Tristan is, how strong and committed are Madeira manages a gripping
the supporting cast – not least Walter psychological portrait of Klytemnestra.
Berry’s blindly faithful servant Kurwenal. It’s a more organised, better-sounding
And how Nilsson’s ‘loving Isolde’ – occasion than the EXPO tour and
Collectors certainly Wieland Wagner’s sobriquet – now might be your choice if you want
wanted more than informs her whole reading of the part, this conductor and soprano together
Decca could provide still vibrant top notes included. in this work.
of this year’s (Incidentally, Sony, the Steersman’s name A Böhm/Nilsson Tristan from Vienna
centenarian Birgit is Paul Taillefer.) has Jess Thomas as the tenor lead, a 1967
Nilsson, an undoubted recording star of The 1965 Metropolitan Opera pre-Christmas evening at the Staatsoper
the great age of the stereo LP. Indeed, Salome is hot. If you thought the (still with a solidly experienced cast. Thomas’s
all of the 17 performances (12 of them remarkable) Decca studio version of some passion and obvious intelligence with the
complete) collected here have appeared years before was a classic example of text (but uneven tone production) does
before in some form, or condition, as Glenn Gould’s ‘constructive cheating’ not always quite equal the achievements
‘private’ or ‘pirate’ issue recordings. The theory of recording, you’ll be surprised. of his diva and conductor – he’s better at
sonic improvements now made by Sony Nilsson can do it all live, including some being neurotic than in love (Act 3 and
to these original releases are often of the teenage-girl voice – as heard too on the end of Act 1 are more in focus than
considerable and their selection is the Decca – that made Maria Cebotari’s Act 2). Nilsson and Böhm – who have by
both logical and satisfying. assumption of the role so ghoulish. The this time been working this opera for six
The calling card of a live (and open-air) Herods (Karl Liebl/Irene Dalis) and successive Bayreuth Festival summers –
1973 Tristan und Isolde is the chance to Narraboth (George Shirley no less) are playing off each other beautifully: try

96 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

Sachs and Walther (and a bit David),


their Liebestod, which is like a Lieder and admirably wary of clichéd off-the- Cosima Eva, Liszt Pogner and Hermann
recital in its natural-sounding exchanges voice dramatics. And it’s a real collector’s Levi Beckmesser. It’s all very ‘Carry On
of colour and mood. And clearly an item to have three great Nordic Richard’, a mode continued when medieval
achievement post the one DG recorded Wagnerians together – Nilsson, Ingrid pantomime-dressed Masters emerge from
at Bayreuth in 1966. Bjoner (Empress) and Astrid Varnay the piano. At the end of Act 1 a 1940s
Turn immediately (if you can) to the (Nurse). Sawallisch’s conducting is ever American military policeman is suddenly
Bayreuth performance under Wolfgang fluent and pacy but his preference for on guard and some scenic adjustments hint
Sawallisch from a decade before. This is lighter sonorities can sound a little penny that we are in another Nuremburg, the
Nilsson’s real Bayreuth debut in a role plain in this score. court where the post-Second World War
suited to her more than the efficient but A collection disc of three Wagner trials took place.
bloodless Elsa (here from 1954 under concert items is memorable for Sergiu Act 2 is set on a grassy field and briefly
Jochum) and the plucky but overweighty Celibidache’s expansive and detailed returns Sachs and Eva to their original
Sieglinde (also here, from 1957 under handling of the Tristan Verklärung and frame characters. But the act’s climax, apart
Knappertsbusch), both the latter roles Stig Rybrant’s of Nilsson in a very early from some skilful direction and ‘blocking’
handed out when Wieland Wagner (1953), very straight Götterdämmerung of the often autopilot Sachs/Eva, Eva/
wrongly thought she was the next Maria Immolation scene in Swedish, which Walther and Sachs/Beckmesser dialogues,
Müller and insufficiently dramatic for sounds in this context almost like a puts the production back in sync with a
Brünnhilde. The Isolde (which she had Nordic original version of Wagner’s text. now almost obligatory show of anti-Semitic
sung elsewhere) is already working well The three non-Wagner/Strauss items treatment towards Beckmesser. This riot
although it lacks the detail of later – are all superb, due in no small part to becomes a crudely staged pogrom with big
reactions are more conventional princess- their conductors. The Swedish premiere inflatable Jewish head and face mask
in-the-lead – and Sawallisch sounds to be of Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (sung squarely aimed at the Marker.
accommodating her with skill rather than in German) teamed Nilsson with Act 3 plays in the Nuremburg trial court
collaborating. Here, one year before the Bernhard Sönnerstedt under the suitably room and the Festwiese showcases more
version released by Orfeo (A/18), this dark and moody baton of Ferenc Fricsay. pantomime medieval costumes and the
conductor is already cunningly moulding She sings strongly, straightforwardly and American soldier guard as symbolic
his minimalist Wagner sonorities to a truly (and the climactic reaction to the reference. Unfortunately it’s pedestrianly
music drama bigger than the early Fifth Door, which we’re all waiting for, staged, including aged Jewish demons
Romantic operas. Despite all the ifs and is predictably electrifying). Bernstein’s teasing Beckmesser, although the ‘blessed’
buts, this first joint outing for Nilsson and Fidelio for Rome Radio – his first try-out Quintet is saved by the emotional energy
Wolfgang Windgassen (the Festival’s of the whole score – is grippingly held of Schwanewilms’s Eva – a constant
Liebespaar from now until 1970) is an together and follows much the same throughout. The Festwiese dance sections
unpredictably exciting evening. dynamic path as his DG recording, are a particular desert of ideas and banal
The Karajan Die Walküre at the Met is ie a chamber opera until Pizarro comes, flag-waving. Then, after Walther’s refusal
professional but resolutely unthrilling – then baleful music drama. Nilsson is to be a Master, the stage is cleared apart
a show that has remained famous for much freer and more at one with the text from Sachs on the trial stand. The chorus
Nilsson’s rehearsal joke in protesting than in her famous early recording with re-emerge on a truck from upstage dressed
stage director Karajan’s low-level lighting Erich Kleiber. as a performing orchestra and chorus for
with a lit-up miner’s helmet. At least Lastly, and very not leastly, the him to conduct the final pages.
Karajan as repetiteur was in good form, epochal Stokowski Met Turandot finally Generally popular with both press and
securing a fine result from the orchestra gets official mass release blessing. Aside public, the result now seems like a messy
and even getting his reluctantly chosen from the colossal vocal battle between missed opportunity. But there’s working
diva Nilsson (details in Thomas Voigt’s Nilsson and Franco Corelli (both on time to come and Kosky, no intellectual
not otherwise over-informative booklet great form if a little careful of the slouch in his ‘day job’ at Berlin’s Komische
note) to sound younger and more girlish, conducting), there’s Anna Moffo’s Oper, could rebalance his strategies and
like his first choice Régine Crespin, who’s absolute nonpareil of a sensual Liù (just paint in work that’s not yet finished. The
here as Sieglinde. Everyone sings and her first ‘mi hai sorriso’ is overwhelming) performances of the cast are of a high
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B I R G I T N I L S S O N F O U N D AT I O N / S I E G F R I E D L A U T E R W A S S E R

plays at the right times but, for example, and the maestro conducting the work standard dramatically and mostly musically.
Vickers’s Siegmund – so alive in the DG like a key early 20th-century score, the Volle now paces himself well and Lehmkuhl
recording and Salzburg tapes – projects orchestra bravely following his many is a magical and unclichéd Magdalene but
everything very safely and Theo Adam tempo adjustments. A great triumph you may long for more body in Walther’s
sounds like he’s watching the maestro whose fearless vocalism and imaginative voice than Vogt’s familiar angelic tones can
the whole time. conducting even redeems Alfano’s manage. Philippe Jordan relates pit carefully
A live 1976 Die Frau ohne Schatten blatant ending. to stage without finding anything markedly
makes a companion for and contrast to The complete set’s booklet has individual. On rival DVDs you will find two
the existing DG Böhm recording. The full performance tracking details and more conventional Bayreuth productions
Dyer’s Wife was the last new role that synopses but not nearly enough on the from Wolfgang Wagner (conducted by
Nilsson took on at a late career stage as actual performances. The release makes Stein on DG, and Barenboim – EuroArts,
well as the nearest to a character role. for a courageous complement and A/08) and one far less from his daughter
This very live performance finds her in alternative to (but not a substitute for) Katharina (Weigle – Opus Arte, 3/11); for
spiky and lively partnership with Fischer- this year’s earlier release of the soprano’s a middle road, look for the Götz Friedrich/
Dieskau’s Barak, most attentive to text commercial studio recordings. Frühbeck de Burgos Deutsche Oper
recording (Arthaus, 4/01). Mike Ashman

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 97


OPERA
AND
VOCAL MUSIC
FROM
BMOP/SOUND

Hear more of
BMOP/sound at
bmop.org

JOHN HARBISON
WINTER’S TALE
“Baritone David Kravitz as King Leontes bears
the brunt of the show’s musical and dramatic
demands and remains the standout in a fine,
fluid cast.” GRAMOPHONE
VIRGIL THOMSON
FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS
“Gil Rose conducts a performance at once elegant
and vibrant” GRAMOPHONE
DAVID DEL TREDICI
CHILD ALICE
“In measure after measure, Budd and the orchestra
whirl through the stratosphere, down the metaphoric
rabbit hole, and back out again.” STEREOPHILE

DEBUT RECORDINGS BY ODYSSEY OPERA

MARIO CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO
THE IMPORTANCE
OF BEING EARNEST
Neal Ferreira tenor
Stefan Barner tenor
Jeni Houser soprano
Rachele Schmiege soprano
Claudia Waite soprano
James Demler baritone
Christina English mezzo soprano
Colin Levin baritone
Odyssey Opera Orchestra
Gil Rose

AVAILABLE NOW AVAILABLE NOW WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING — COMING SOON

PIETRO MASC GNI DOMINICK ARGENTO MARIO CASTELNU VO-TEDESCO


ZANETTO THE BOOR, MISS HAVISHAM’S THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
WEDDING NIGHT, A WATER BIRD TALK
The lonely courtesan Silvia falls for The quick-witted social commentary
Zanetto, a young minstrel, but Silvia is Three one-act operas about marriage: of Oscar Wilde’s most famous play is
not who Zanetto thinks she is. an unhappy marriage, a marriage that captured in this rarely heard era.
wasn’t what it seemed to be, and a
marriage that never was.

L E A R N M O R E AT O D Y S S E Y O P E R A . O R G
JAZZ & WORLD MUSIC REVIEWS

The Editors of Gramophone’s sister music magazines, Jazzwise and Songlines,


recommend some of their favourite recordings from the past month

Jazz
Wolfgang Muthspiel
Brought to you by

jazz voyagers and pursuers of blues and Jarrett’s The Melody at Night with You, the
Where The River Goes leftfield perceptions of swing. Several music is almost too personal, too heartfelt
ECM F 2610 tracks have solo guitar or piano intros, but to open up its secrets. We hear through a
Muthspiel’s soft, latin-strummed opening veil, often of tears. And yet it is in that
With Rising Grace in 2016, to the title-track turns into an evocatively witnessing of an artist easing yet pleading,
the Austrian guitarist Kenny Wheeler-reminiscent piece sometimes blithely at one with his art, at
Wolfgang Muthspiel following Akinmusire’s yearning statement others challenged and defeated, that the
confirmed his stature on of the theme. It’s as classy a session as the beauty and strength prevails. As Philip
the world stage all the personnel would imply, if extendedly Clark’s wise notes suggest, there’s
more firmly – Brad Mehldau was his pensive at times. John Fordham something painterly in Westbrook’s
pianist, Ambrose Akinmusire his trumpeter, approach: each track is complete in itself
long-time Mehldau collaborator Larry Mike Westbrook (though some segue into others), yet, like
Grenadier was on bass. Where The River Starcross Bridge late Turners, they are also suggestive rather
Goes is the next chapter, with the same hatOLOGY F 754 than solid, to an airy suspended thinness:
band save for the idiosyncratic Eric chords, Messiaen-like, hover and decay,
Harland coming in for the comparably Wait 40 years for a solo melodies elide and fall. Starcross Bridge is a
exciting Brian Blade on drums. Though piano recording from rail crossing close to the Westbrook’s
Muthspiel albums incline nowadays toward Mike Westbrook, then Dawlish home. One side the sea, on the
a mix of solo meditations and probing stone me two come along other a cosy pub. And that’s what this
collective speculations over nailed-down virtually at once. Starcross release brings us: wide wild vistas on one
grooves, there’s a good enough balance of Bridge is, if it’s at all possible, even more side, hunkered down delight, warm with
both for this set to intrigue both freefall- intimate and elusive than 2016’s Paris. Like detail on the other. Andy Robson

World Music
Sam Sweeney
Brought to you by

of this outstanding album. It comprises 16 Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations,
The Unfinished Violin pieces to mark the centenary of the war’s acoustically recording indigenous musicians
Mighty Village Records/Island F 6769254 end, ranging from Scottish pipe tunes to in natural settings, and layering their
popular dances and marches that began their collaborative contributions together in a
Sam Sweeney’s Fiddle: lives in civvies before being inveigled into cultural mash-up. Based on the Austronesian
Made in the Great War the military. Sweeney’s playing is unearthly migration theory that many present-day
show toured from 2014 to at times: the singular focus of this set and Oceanic cultures originated in Taiwan, the
last year, and he has the level of its performance makes this an project reaffirms musical links between
chosen that same World outstanding and deeply moving experience. cultures as far afield as Hawaii, Madagascar,
War I fiddle, made by a music hall Tim Cumming Aotearoa (New Zealand), Borneo, Solomon
performer in Leeds, recovered from an Islands, Tahiti, Guam and Rapa Nui (Easter
Oxford violin shop and played on Small Island Big Song Island). With over 100 musicians taking
innumerable gigs, to be the focus of his Small Island F SIBS-0001 part, the resulting 18-track album fuses their
debut solo album. It features a swelling, individual performances into a smorgasbord
stately tune called ‘The Wellesley’, from the A little idea that’s grown of overlapping styles, accentuating both the
Duke of Wellington’s West Riding into a large project, Small similarities and regional differences of
Regiment, of which Sweeney’s violin maker, Island Big Song is the traditional instruments, voices, language and
Richard Howard, was a member up until his brainchild of Australian rhythm. With gorgeous videos available on
death at the Battle of Messines in 1917. sound producer and the project’s website, a full DVD on the
Sweeney played it over Howard’s grave in filmmaker Tim Cole and his Taiwanese near horizon and a touring ensemble
2017; he says the emotion was partner BaoBao Chen. The original concept gearing up for festivals, Small Island Big Song
overwhelming, and that is the general tenor evolved into a three-year journey to 16 is really only just beginning. Seth Jordan

Gramophone, Jazzwise and Songlines are published by MA Music, Leisure & Travel, home to the world’s best
specialist music magazines. To find out more, visit gramophone.co.uk, jazzwisemagazine.com and songlines.co.uk
gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 99
REISSUES &ARCHIVE
Our monthly guide to the most exciting catalogue releases, historic issues and box-sets
BACH 333 • 100 EMANUEL AX • 103 LP REISSUES • 104
BOX-SET ROUND-UP • 107 ROB COWAN’S REPLAY • 108 CLASSICS RECONSIDERED • 110

Bach is Best … on 222 discs


Jonathan Freeman-Attwood reviews one of the most ambitious box-set projects ever

B
reeze blocks of discs marking compassionate biography, 13 fascinating form of a recorded legacy. Reflecting
anniversaries tend to sit somewhere new essays by eminent Bach scholars the most eclectic and often multifarious
between the opportunistic and the (including an intriguing one on the interpretative lineages, the ‘sounds of
intermittently illuminating. ‘Bach 333’, abandoned contest between Bach and each age’ are positioned within their
marking 333 years since Johann Sebastian Marchand), an introduction and DVD film various instrumental and vocal narratives.
Bach’s birth, is an incomparably lavish and by the ubiquitous John Eliot Gardiner, The principle currency of the enterprise
celebratory conceit not yet seen on this President of the key collaborating is rooted in ‘historically informed’
scale. Far from a single record company organisation, the Leipzig Bach Archive. performance, with the category of
padding out its rich catalogue to celebrate The whole seems unerringly exhaustive. ‘traditions’ presented in the form of an
a major figure – Philips for Mozart in I tried to imagine what else I’d have appendix or even curiosity (‘alternative’
1991 and Hänssler for Bach in 2000 included. Ah, yes, an essay on the lost and recordings as they are termed). There is a
(remember the disc dedicated to Bach’s missing works? Not to worry: that doyen taut coherence in this approach even if it
Scales from Weimar?) – the ambition here of Bach scholars, Christoph Wolff, covers encourages a somewhat polarising view of
is to collect as much of the best of Bach it in all its tantalising brutality. There’s Bach performance and discography.
recorded music as possible from the last even a taster of the new BWV catalogue as Perhaps the alternative method might
90-odd years: a mash-up of traditional it’s being updated to reflect extensive new have been too dangerous? To deliver a
big-scale completism, in this case 222 research (chronology, the different versions necessarily subjective view on the ‘high-
CDs from the Universal Catalogue of works and reviewed authenticity) for water marks’ of performance for each work.
(essentially DG, Decca and Philips), final publication in 2019-20. For example, what constitutes the most
creatively and pragmatically padded But, above all, ‘Bach 333’ is a treasure searching and expressive vocabulary used
out by interpretations from 32 ‘guest’ trove of Bach’s global impact in the in BWV1 – irrespective of its execution
labels so that all Bach’s works appear in on ‘old’ or ‘modern’ instruments, a big
‘period-style’ performances, alongside choir or a small choir? Lehmann,
supplementary ‘historical recordings’ (more Rösch, Gardiner or Suzuki? Such
on that distinction below!) and the most an approach would surely inhibit
beautifully produced, informative and the range of the project but the
rigorously presented written famously territorial position
material. of Bach performance criticism
This unique labour of might be mitigated in a spirit of
love has been expertly musical ecumenism. If Richter
helmed from the and Rifkin are not exactly rubbing
bridge by Senior shoulders in the cantata section
Vice-President here, discerning examples of
of Universal their specifically valuable
Classics, Paul contributions are
Moseley, confidently presented
supported by – and that is
Nicholas Kenyon’s ultimately what
experienced counts.
consultancy where In the four
he also offers a richly compartments of
informative volume, vocal, keyboard,
providing illuminating orchestral and
commentary on every instrumental,
work. It also contains we’re offered
Dorothea Schröder’s a plethora of

100 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


REISSUES

St Thomas’s Church and School in Leipzig, Bach’s focus of activities from 1723 until his death in 1750. Copperplate engraving by Johann Gottfried Krügner, 1723

household-name recordings (no Gould with Eduard Melkus and Huguette Melkus project – around 10 hours of it – including
Goldbergs, alas!) with the lion’s share, appear to have slipped under the radar. highly impressive but somewhat over-
as you would expect, from DG’s Archiv But, happily, not much else has. calculated readings of the unaccompanied
label, or certainly Universal-centric. As the richest treasure trove ever violin music by Giuliano Carmignola.
Occasionally pragmatism on that score dedicated to a single composer, the In sum, this vastly impressive creation is
governs choice and prevents arguably weighing of the grand design with shamelessly idealistic. Its primary strength
more distinguished readings from being personal preference inevitably becomes lies not just in the quality of the editorial
highlighted. For all my admiration for a fairly futile exercise. The possibilities direction and consummate values but
Kenneth Gilbert, is his Well-Tempered for discovery seem almost endless in the how so many small independent labels
Clavier really the most representative unquenchable desire to cover as many have responded generously to the spirit
P H OTO G R A P H Y: C O U RT E S Y A N D C O P Y R I G H T O F H E N RY W I L L I S & S O N S LT D/ B AC H -A R C H I V L E I PZ I G

performance on the harpsichord of such angles of Bach as possible: ‘Bach after of the exercise and pushed commercial
an iconic work, even if we have Pollini and sensitivities aside. Inevitably, some
Schiff as ‘alternatives’? The cantatas are In sum, this vastly labels will have felt that their own Bach
dominated by John Eliot Gardiner’s ‘Soli catalogue would have been placed at
Deo Gloria’ (SDG) performances from
impressive creation is risk, if they had contributed. The organ
his Millennial Pilgrimage – Universal shamelessly idealistic category is arguably the greatest loser in
effectively buying back the catalogue from this respect.
which DG originally pulled the plug, Bach’, ‘Bach and Other Composers’ and Who’s this for? Bach aficionados will have
thereby necessitating SDG’s existence. It ‘Bach Interactive’. Relish the Kurtágs much of the music already and at around
is peppered discerningly with additional playing the Sinfonia of BWV106 in a £400 this presents a dilemma for them.
artists, mainly fellow cantata heavy- widely representative selection of piano But, ultimately, this is not an object to be
weights Koopman and Suzuki. My heart transcriptions (though the absence of that ‘compared with’ or geometrically assessed. It
leapt to see Christophe Coin’s tiny but doyen Samuil Feinberg playing his own is the biggest imaginable bang of Bachiana.
revelatory readings, such as his delectable arrangement of the Prelude and Fugue in It sucks you in and makes you realise that
BWV115, while I am a touch disappointed E minor, ‘The Wedge’ is a notable loss), you want to be one of the 8500 lucky
not to see more Fritz Werner and none of the various pots of re-orchestrated gold owners of a spectacular limited edition.
Felix Prohaska’s blissful recordings from from Stokowski and others (though sadly See also our Bach cover feature on page 14
the early 1950s, the revelatory ‘scenas’ of no Henry Wood), jazz, and some riveting
BWVs70 and 78 especially. And as we’re cross-over paraphrases, ‘New Colours of THE RECORDING
about it, those heart-warming Archiv Bach’, many specially recorded. Indeed, Bach 333 – The New Complete Edition
versions of the obbligato violin sonatas new recording is another corollary of the DG (222 discs) 479 8000

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 101


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REISSUES

Emanuel Ax: The Complete RCA legacy


Patrick Rucker has been enjoying a feast of recordings from the start of Ax’s career

T
he American pianist Emanuel Ax
was born in Lvov, Ukraine to
Polish Holocaust survivors. His
family moved first to Warsaw, then to
Winnipeg, before settling finally in New
York. Now 69, Ax maintains a robust
concert schedule and teaches at The
Juilliard School, where he was once the
pupil of Mieczysław Munz. A year after
his victory at the 1974 Arthur Rubinstein
Competition, he began recording for RCA.
This new collection is the first complete
reissue of the 23 recordings Ax made over
the next dozen years. With such an
abundance of music, this review can at best
point to highlights.
Speaking of his 11-year tutelage under
Munz, himself a Busoni pupil, Ax has said
that his teacher would frequently suggest
unusual repertory, the Weber Invitation to
the Dance, for instance, not the original,
but in Tausig’s transcription, or Liszt’s
transcriptions of Schubert songs which, in Emanuel Ax, the early years: proof that his remarkable artistry blossomed early
the 1960s, were anything but fashionable.
Ax brought this affinity for the unfamiliar course much sought after as a concerto sets an heroic seal on the entire concerto,
with him when he made his first recording partner of great skill and pliancy, willing concluding on a note as close to
in February of 1975. In addition to and able to follow his soloists into redemption as Brahms will allow.
Chopin’s B minor Sonata, there is a whatever interpretative terrain they chose. Among the other concerto recordings,
riveting Liszt group. Four Schubert song The conductor had his work cut out for the Beethoven cycle with the Royal
transcriptions are pianistically stunning. him in a performance in which Ax Philharmonic Orchestra under André
Yet even more striking is Ax’s flawless indulges in some extravagant and not Previn, including a Choral Fantasy in the
declamation of the texts, their prosody always convincing rubato, as well as some company of the New York PO and NY
eloquent and inerrant, surely rooted in the occasionally startling interpretive choices. Choral Artists under Zubin Mehta, must be
same feeling for language that earned him a Fast forward to 1983 and a much more mentioned. Recorded between 1983 and
degree in French from Columbia. The successful collaboration of great distinction 1986, these intelligent and stylish readings
songs are rounded out by two Etudes. and originality. By this time, Ax had have held up well.
‘Gnomenreigen’ achieves elfin delicacy in an recorded pairs of Mozart concertos with Finally, among several fine chamber
extraordinary display of pianissimo leggiero, Eduardo Mata and the Dallas SO and with music recordings, including collaborations
leavened with wry humour. The Sixth Pinchas Zukerman and the St Paul CO. with the Cleveland and Guarneri Quartets,
Paganini Etude transcends its formal theme He also had Chopin’s E minor Chopin three are standouts. Ax recorded Schubert’s
and variations in a bravura succession of Concerto, again with Ormandy and Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin with the
affects of heroic sweep and grandeur, Philadelphia, under his belt. Brahms’s Swedish baritone Håkan Hagegård in
amounting to a Romantic mini epic. D minor Concerto with the Chicago SO readings both thoughtful and perceptive.
Two years and three recordings later, in under James Levine, on the other hand, is And his long standing partnership with
1977 Ax indulged his proclivity for the in a class by itself. This true meeting of cellist Yo-Yo Ma is celebrated in a splendid
French in a Ravel album that includes a soloist’s and conductor’s minds yields a disc devoted to the two Brahms sonatas.
lovely Ma mère l’Oye with his wife Yoko performance as rich as it is commanding. Today there are well over 100 recordings
Nazaki. The album’s centerpiece, The development of the opening Maestoso of Ax available, covering a wide range of
however, is the Valses nobles et sentimentales. has an irresistible lilt and schwung that repertory, including his commitment to
P H OTO G R A P H Y: DAV E H E C H T/ S O N Y C L A S S I C A L

This reading may not inspire you to dance stands in piquant contrast to the prevalent contemporary music not featured in this
around the room, but it will likely have tragedy. In an exceptionally broad Adagio, collection. Yet these first 23 RCA
you hanging on every note. Ravel’s Ax sculpts phrases that rise and fall with a recordings endearingly exhibit the first
harmonic genius, his unique textures pathos that speaks in a hushed pianissimo flowering of Ax’s artistry, even as they
and colours and, yes, his polyphony are of nearly inconsolable grief. The chains of demonstrate his precocious mastery.
presented in gorgeous array. trills which prepare the movement’s
Ax’s first concerto recording in 1978 was denouement are transformative, evoking in THE RECORDING
a collaboration with Eugene Ormandy and their own personal way Artur Schnabel’s Emanuel Ax: The Complete RCA Album
the Philadelphia Orchestra in Chopin’s magical concept of this transcendent Collection
F minor Concerto (No 2). Ormandy was of moment. An intrepid, determined Rondo RCA Red Seal M (23 discs) 8898 548519-2

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 103


REISSUES

Watch the windows – sonic boom!


Peter Quantrill reviews some recent LPs ranging from the 1812 to intimate Nordic folk

W
ith Telarc’s Tchaikovsky 1812 we of the original LP may appear steep. In graceful playing of the Boston Symphony’s
may have reached peak geek. The fact Gramophone adverts from 1979 reveal concertmaster, Joseph Silverstein, on
first of these LP round-ups (A/16) Telarc LPs retailing for £8.80; adjusted for another early digital Telarc LP of Vivaldi’s
referred to early digital recordings (first on inflation in today’s money that’s around The Four Seasons. Seiji Ozawa’s direction
LP, then CD) from the Cleveland-based £42, which is still a bargain compared to has unabashed retro appeal, never so
company that threatened (or promised) to ‘ultra-high-quality recording’, 200-gram glutinous as the EMI record of his mentor
break your equipment through the sheer pressings available online from specialist Herbert von Karajan with Anne-Sophie
force of their fidelity. It was a marketing dealers for $200 and more. Having tried Mutter from the same era, and the Telarc
claim so sensational yet so astutely targeted out the reissue on three different sets of team captures bite as well as bloom in the
at the high-end hi-fi market that it worked, Boston Symphony’s accompaniment.
selling more than 800,000 copies of a single There is no shortage of A third Telarc reissue spreads Orf’s
recording. This one made Telarc’s name Carmina Burana over three sides
at much the same time, just as – with what YouTube videos showing – extravagantly so even in 1981, as
now looks like a very English restraint by needles that ride or flinch and Edward Greenfield noted in his original
comparison – ‘A Feather on the Breath of review (9/81) – and the consequent
God’ made Hyperion’s. skip the final cannon blast increase in dynamic range offers only
In this particular case there was truth partial comparison for Robert Shaw’s
behind the hype. Internet forum threads equipment, all in the budget- to mid-price foursquare direction.
still breathlessly discuss which particular range, I am almost disappointed to report
combinations of cartridge, tonearm, that none of them failed ‘the 1812 test’.
player, amps and speakers can and cannot The grooves towards the centre of the Half-cut Beethoven
cope with the artillery recorded by the pressing still resemble a rock-strewn path As it happens, EG was a member of the
Telarc engineers at an Ohio university up Scafell even to the naked eye, and Telarc ‘Sounds in Retrospect’ panel in March
campus (where it proceeded to blow out claims that the latest mastering was made 1980 when both the Telarc 1812 and a new
the windows of a building several hundred with the same cutting lathe as the very first, Beethoven symphony cycle from Vienna
feet away) and then balanced in to the but at what level isn’t specified; there were were put under the audio microscope.
final mix at an unusually high level. For three successive pressings issued in the early This has been reissued by DG in luxurious
readers with time on their hands, there is 1980s to cope with demand, each cut at a fashion (at a price just shy of £150) as part
no shortage of YouTube videos showing different level of (un)playability. of the label’s contributions to the Leonard
needles that ride or flinch and skip the Complete with yellow sticker and pink Bernstein centenary. Padded out by the
final cannon blast. insert – ‘On the first playing, proceed Prometheus and King Stephen overtures, the
At a list price just shy of £30 this with caution until a safe playback level box now runs to nine instead of eight LPs,
faithfully reproduced, 180-gram new reissue can be determined!’ in italic capitals for which are rather superfluously enclosed
good measure – the within the original outer sleeves for the
Telarc’s vinyl reissue of their famed 1812 recording, issue is a piece of separate issues of each symphony.
complete with the original warning e history. ‘Dry, compressed and opaque’ was the
musical panel’s reaction to the engineering of the
e more open Eroica. Spread over three LP sides, and
n. Kunzel enhanced by the same half-speed mastering
me blocky technology used by Telarc for its original
anges in 1812 pressings, the newly remastered
Overture and sound is lucid and full of life (not least
ccio italien Bernstein’s grunting exhortations in the
. Though finale of the Seventh), set clearly within the
t desks of Musikverein acoustic. The residual dryness
ncinnati belongs both to DG’s house style and to
stand up the particular, New York-accented variety
utiny in the of Viennese sound cultivated by Bernstein.
s opening Why should half-speed mastering make
nody, tuning a difference? In the LP manufacturing
tis is often process, cutting lathes create a lacquer
tending template which is to be used as the
ards sharp, ‘stamper’ for commercial pressings.
cially from The slower the machine operates, the
ds and brass. more accurate it should be. A pitch
It’s a far component originally recorded at 10kHz
y from the can be mastered at 5kHz – that’s still
failingly 5000 vibrations a second being cut into
eek and the lacquer – so that high-range frequency

gramophone.co.uk
REISSUES

information becomes much easier to


manage and to reproduce. The difference
is most audible in the finale of the Ninth.
Without recourse to splitting it over two
sides – unlike the recent BPO/Rattle cycle
on LP (11/17) – the remastering engineers
have noticeably opened out the wind band
and more distantly balanced chorus. Some
compression at side-ends is still evident,
especially in odd-numbered finales, and
the very success of the remastering shows
up Bernstein’s unwillingness to divide
his violins.
Artfully yellowed facsimiles
of the original recording reports
(‘Aufnahmeprotokollen’) enhance the
set’s retro appeal, but the music-making
itself is ‘historic’ in the best sense of the
word. Why does it reward intent and
repeated listening? It’s something to
do with the voice-leading. Tension and
relaxation arise organically because every
part, every motif, responds to the others.
Nothing is repeated, nothing is mechanical.
The Larghetto of No 2 and the Andante of The Danish Quartet mine a particularly sober and nostalgic tone on their album ‘Last Leaf’
No 5 are prone to hang fire whatever the
chosen tempo, Beethoven’s metronome certainly when compared to the brilliant a Christmas hymn, but don’t expect
mark included. Bernstein unfolds them definition achieved by Telarc’s engineers chocolate-log carols or chestnut-roasting
broadly and with an inner logic that in Watford Town Hall for an LSO comfort: this is from Denmark, remember.
justifies and even requires lengthy fermatas Nutcracker (the company’s first modern The quartet’s members have done their
between sections such as the transitions LP reissue, 6/17). Three LPs are tightly own arranging, and they segue without
from Trio back to Scherzo in the Fourth squeezed into a standard gatefold. a break between dances and songs
and Seventh. Elsewhere the pulse is often The kind of arm’s length, concert- without words on a polished 48-minute
swift and the momentum inexorable, as in hall clarity that is a hallmark of the EMI concept album that’s identical in CD
a fiery First and an enraptured account of Abbey Road sound is more effectively and LP incarnations. The predominantly
the Pastoral. demonstrated by the 1959 Igor Markevitch sober or nostalgic tone is lifted early on
Stravinsky Rite of Spring. Distantly recorded by an infectious Polska and later by a
solo wind and some ruthless tempos (such whispered pizzicato version of ‘How were
Old friends and last leaves as the ‘Danse sacrale’, a bit of a scramble) you so sick last night?’. Again, maybe it’s
Not everything improves with back- don’t greatly diminish the impact of the a Danish thing.
transfer to LP. As the soloist on an often Philharmonia at full tilt, pushed further
frenetic and disjointed 2000 Warner to extremes of volume and attack than in THE RECORDINGS
Classics recording of Rachmaninov’s their mono version of 1953. Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture, etc
Second Piano Concerto, Hélène Grimaud The pick of these Warner reissues is a Cincinnati SO / Kunzel
is still placed absurdly to the fore, which 1996 album of Schubert Impromptus played Telarc F 6 TEL00009
does no favours to her diamond-tipped by Elisabeth Leonskaja with the quality Vivaldi The Four Seasons
articulation and shallow tone at forte of powerful concentration that she brings Silverstein; Boston SO / Ozawa
and above. The Philharmonia is largely to her recitals. Reverse-engineering Telarc F 6 TEL00004
confined to a wishy-washy backing act the Berlin Teldex studio recording for Orf Carmina Burana, etc Atlanta SO / Shaw
except in some disconcerting moments LP has only deepened the shades of Telarc F b 6 TEL00006
of spot-miking for flute here, pizzicato burgundy which she draws from the Beethoven Symphonies VPO / Bernstein
bass there. A-B comparison with the CD lower octaves. Yet in her hands deliberate DG F i 6 479 8721
confirms that the flat clarinet solo in the never means lugubrious; her right-hand Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2, etc
Adagio sostenuto is not an LP pressing issue. figurations eddy and cascade rather than Grimaud; Philh Orch / Ashkenazy
Indeed, all the recent Warner Classics glitter even at close quarters. Each variation Warner Classics F 6 9029 69154-1
P H OTO G R A P H Y: C A R O L I N E B I T T E N C O U RT

reissues are blessed with beautifully of the Schöne Müllerin-style melody in the Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty LSO / Previn
silent surfaces. long B flat Impromptu, D935 No 3, brings Warner Classics F c 6 9029 56684-8
Not least in Tchaikovsky, with the LSO a fresh perspective within a reassuringly Stravinsky The Rite of Spring
Sleeping Beauty masterminded by André steady pulse. Philh Orch / Markevitch
Previn with unobtrusive dabs of greasepaint In the wake of ‘Wood Works’ (Dacapo, Warner Classics F 6 9029 69153-9
and recorded at Abbey Road by EMI’s old A/16) comes a sequel of Nordic folk Schubert Impromptus Leonskaja
firm of Christopher Bishop and tunes from the Danish Quartet, who Warner Classics F b 6 9029 56682-8
Christopher Parker: slightly tubby- have moved to ECM in the meanwhile. ‘Last Leaf’ Danish Quartet
sounding from a modern perspective, The concept of Last Leaf grows from ECM New Series F 6 481 6497

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 105


BOX-SETRound-up
Rob Cowan offers a personal round-up of chamber, choral and operatic gems

S
urveying the stakes of intelligent and A further Bach connection is famously
insightful Beethoven string quartet forged with Gounod, whose 200th birthday
cycles by gifted young players finds we’ve recently celebrated and whose Ave
us with a plethora of recommendable Maria, based on the first Prelude from
choices, sets either completed or in JSB’s ‘48’, has to rank among the most
the making by the likes of the Artemis, famous of all art songs. Barbara Hendricks
Casals, Elias, Belcea and Alcan Quartets does the honours for Gounod’s ‘greatest
and the immensely personable Quartetto hit’ in Warner Classics’ handsome,
di Cremona, whose consistently alert musically enticing 15-CD Gounod
interpretations also enjoy the benefit of Edition, whereas other mélodies fall to the
remarkably lifelike SACD sound. This likes of Camille Maurane, Gérard Souzay,
or that significant textual detail might Felicity Lott, Ann Murray, José Carreras,
hold sway for some collectors whereas, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, José van Dam,
in terms of interpretation, the Quartetto Marilyn Horne and Pierre Bernac. For
di Cremona parade a keen edge, with most collectors, however, the larger-
generally swift pacing, tension within rests scale works will prove the principal draw,
and a wide range of instrumental colours. Faust being presented in Georges Prêtre’s
The opening Allegro of Op 18 No 5 has a Paulus recording features Juliane Banse, superb Paris Opéra recording with Plácido
bright, chirpy feel to it, whereas the parallel Michael Schade and the Prague Chamber Domingo in his prime, as well as Mirella
movement in No 6 really is a bustling con Choir. What I most enjoy about Rilling’s Freni as Marguerite, Nicolai Ghiaurov
brio, which means that the music’s implied Mendelssohn is its acknowledgement, in as Mephistophélès and Thomas Allen
conversational opera buffa element takes a performance terms, of the music’s mixed as Valentin.
back seat. Op 95 opens to an Allegro that’s lineage, significantly Bachian on the one Interesting that when the opera first
all but maniacal in its urgency, whereas hand, as well as Classical and upliftingly appeared in German opera houses the
Op 135’s Scherzo bounces along, a breezy pre-Romantic (the first chorus of Paulus, presence of a rival work of the same
preparation for an expressive but mobile for example). Who could resist Singet name by Spohr meant that some theatres
account of the Lento slow movement. dem Herrn ein neues Lied (Psalm 91) decided to opt for Margarethe rather than
I was fascinated by the Cremona’s unusual as sung here? Faust as a title, and Warners provide
voicing of Op 130’s Alla danza tedesca but Mention of Bachian influences brings a disc of highlights from that too (in
a little disappointed that the Cavatina is me to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann German), with an all-star cast of Nicolai
tailed by the allegro-finale ‘rewrite’ rather Sebastian’s second child and eldest Gedda, Edda Moser, Fischer-Dieskau
than by the gnarled Grosse Fuge (which, son by Maria Barbara, who, despite his and Kurt Moll. Michel Plasson offers us
incidentally, is magnificently played: you accomplishments as an organist, improviser both Roméo et Juliette (with Alfredo Kraus
can find it on disc 3). Still, this is without and composer, never achieved a stable and Catherine Malfitano, and van Dam as
question a set to reckon with. Even with income and died in poverty. Friedemann Friar Laurence) and Mireille (Freni, Alain
the Takács Quartet (Decca) as overall incorporated more elements of the Vanzo, van Dam, etc). Also from Plasson,
leaders in the digital field I’d strongly contrapuntal style learnt from his father Mors et vita and the two symphonies,
recommend it, especially given the than any of his three composer brothers whereas the Messe chorale falls to Michel
comparatively unfamiliar String Quintet but his individualistic and improvisatory Corboz, the Messe solennelle de Sainte-Cécile
(with the Emerson’s Lawrence Dutton as edge endeared his work to musicians of to Jean-Claude Hartemann and the Little
the extra viola player) as a welcome bonus, the late 19th century. Brilliant Classics has Symphony for wind instruments to Sir
another engaging performance. done WFB proud with a 14-CD Edition, John Barbirolli and members of the Hallé
A very useful collection of Mendelssohn the highlight of which is surely the first Orchestra. In short, an international-
choral works arrives from Hänssler Classic disc, a programme of orchestral works style celebration of a major bicentennial
featuring the ever-dependable forces of stylishly played by the CPE Bach Chamber master, with some great singing and
Helmuth Rilling and his Bach-Collegium Orchestra under Hartmut Haenchen. authoritative conducting.
Stuttgart and Gächinger Kantorei, There are two discs of harpsichord
recorded between 1994 and 2003. Rilling’s concertos featuring Claudio Astronio, flute THE RECORDINGS
signature warmth is apparent right from sonatas (Wilbert Hazelzet and Marion Beethoven Quartetto di Cremona
opening of Elijah (in German, so Elias Moonen), keyboard works (Astronio again, Audite M h AUDITE21 454
here), and even more so in ‘Herr Gott including two discs’ worth of organ music Mendelssohn Rilling
Abrahams’, candidly prayerful as sung by played by Filippo Turri) and a pair of Hänssler Classic M f HC17082
Wolfgang Schöne. Mendelssohn could as discs devoted to cantatas with Hermann WF Bach Haenchen, Max, Astronio et al
well have written ‘Höre, Israel …’ with Max conducting (soloists include Barbara Brilliant Classics S n 95596
Christine Schäfer’s silvery soprano in Schlick and Wilfried Jochens). Schlick is The Gounod Edition
mind and that wonderful chorus ‘Fürchte especially memorable in the aria ‘Vater, mir Warner Classics M o
dich nicht’ is vigorously sung. The Erbarmen’ from the cantata F80. 9029 56488-7

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 107


REPLAY
Rob Cowan’s monthly survey of historic reissues and archive recordings

A remarkable Rachmaninov discovery


T
here have already been at least a version, builds a crescendo some bars part of the set, Mitropoulos’s mesmerising
couple of notable first-time historic before the marked poco crescendo (bar 5), way with the piece combining rhythmic
releases this year (Alexander by which time he’s reducing his tone again. assertiveness with lyrical ardour, the taut
Borovsky’s ‘48’ and various Hans Rosbaud The second segment (bars 48 to 236) Third Dance consistently courting danger,
broadcasts) but when it comes to bending is more a rough-hewn charcoal sketch, at times sounding as if the entire orchestra
a learning curve just about as far as it will definitely the pianist turned conductor is risking life and limb.
go, this set tops the lot. You need only play this time, incorporating as it does the Mitropoulos also offers us an
the opening few bars of Eugene Ormandy’s lovely second theme where the composer’s impassioned performance of the Third
grieving 1943 broadcast account of playing resembles his familiar renditions Symphony from 1941, again with the
Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead to sense that of his more lyrical piano Preludes, the Philharmonic-Symphony, quite different
a tragic event is being commemorated. melody’s top line underlined with vocal to the composer’s own recording with
That event was Rachmaninov’s own death intensity: you could almost imagine his the Philadelphia Orchestra, certainly in
five days earlier and in marking it Ormandy friend Chaliapin singing it. Rachmaninov’s the way the first movement’s principal
gave what is possibly his most deeply felt own ‘singing along’ is clearly audible, as are theme is phrased. Punchy, occasionally
Rachmaninov performance on disc. various rhythmic vocal interjections, most headstrong and with a palpable sense of
Overwhelming isn’t the word. But, fine dramatically the ff timpani semiquaver yearning, it’s another winner. And there’s
as The Isle is (in spite of some authorised figure that first appears at bar 9. There’s more: Leopold Stokowski conducting
cuts), the principal draw in this game- the Second Dance’s haunting waltz the American Symphony Orchestra and
changing collection is Rachmaninov’s own melody, so wistfully played and yet Schola Cantorum in the Three Russian
piano demonstration of significant sections with an abundance of rich tone in the Songs for chorus and orchestra (1966) and
of his as-then fresh-minted Symphonic lower registers and no lack of brilliance, a vastly superior transfer of the last of the
Dances, recorded (maybe surreptitiously) on Rachmaninov rushing impetuously across songs, known as ‘Powder and Paint’, a
December 20, 1940, probably at Eugene the keys much as he does on so many of saucy little number, earthily, even sexily
Ormandy’s house. Ormandy and his his commercial recordings, or the excerpt performed by Nadezhda Plevitskaya with
Philadelphia Orchestra are the work’s from the Third Dance, more melancholy, Rachmaninov at the piano (1926, also
dedicatees and the event as recorded is an even darkly pensive in spirit, than any out on RCA).
object lesson in how the music should be other I’ve heard. Benno Moiseiwitsch is all heart
moulded and shaped, its huge dynamic As I say, checking what you hear against and nimble fingers in the Paganini
range, and the singular manner of its very the score – rehearsal figures are given in Rhapsody (under Adrian Boult in 1946),
Russian-sounding rhetoric. The acetate- the booklet – allows you to reference the a wonderful performance virtually the
based recording quality is a good deal composer’s approach against the countless equal of the composer’s own, and there
better than one might have expected (Ward commercial recordings of the full, finished are primitive-sounding recordings of
Marston has worked miracles on the sound publication that have appeared since, Rachmaninov playing his Polka italienne,
restoration), while well over half the work including Ormandy’s. Incidentally, the a Russian folk song and fragments of
is represented. piano excerpts are included twice, once Ballades by Liszt and Brahms, recorded
Any potential doubts regarding the in unedited form and once in an edited in recital. What we have of the Liszt is
recording’s provenance instantly vanish in version where most of the repeated phrases especially impressive.
the light of the evidence. The composer’s and spoken comments have been removed, These tracks are interesting to have as
playing style is unmistakable, its sense and with the music in the right order. All a supplement to the main deal, which is
of romantic freedom, thunderous attack, three dances are represented. for my money the year’s top-ranking CD
crispness of articulation, delicacy and We’re told (in Richard Taruskin’s superb release, and blow whether it’s old or new.
almost unendurable tenderness, especially note) that Ormandy didn’t especially like Henceforth it will alter the way you listen
in the haunting reference to the First the work and that Rachmaninov didn’t to some great music, and that surely is
Symphony near the close of the First take to the way he performed it. Dimitri what profound listening is all about.
Dance (on disc 1, track 3). What we hear Mitropoulos was evidently a better bet:
is sometimes at variance with what we he’d performed it in Minneapolis at a THE RECORDING
see in the latest published score (Boosey concert where Rachmaninov was also ‘Rachmaninof Plays
& Hawkes), the crotchets at the very playing and the composer asked him to re- Symphonic Dances’
beginning of the first dance, for example, programme the Symphonic Dances in New Marston F c 53022-2
marked pp for violins and violas but where York so that he could hear his performance Available from
Rachmaninov, in this prototype piano at home on the radio. That performance is marstonrecords.com

108 GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


REPLAY

the Fourth Symphony. Bruch’s First Violin


Concerto with Georg Kulenkampff (Berlin,
1941) is among the best from the period
and there are various opera preludes, some
taken from Wagner performances recorded
live at Bayreuth. Altogether, another
worthwhile collection.

THE RECORDING
Joseph Keilberth
Bruckner, Reger, Pfitzner, etc
Profil B j PH18019

Julian Olevsky
Among the many gifted instrumentalists
who, over the years, have sidestepped the
limelight is the American violinist Julian
Rachmaninov: a newly discovered recording made by the composer in 1940 is released by Marston Records Olevsky, whose Westminster recordings
enjoyed temporary circulation within the
Prokofiev (Sonata No 8), Chopin, UK many moons ago. Olevsky’s sound
Nikolayeva’s Bach Schumann, Liadov, Medtner, Mendelssohn, subscribes to the same expressive template –
Tatiana Nikolayeva was truly a noble Rachmaninov, Bartók, Borodin and vibrant, emotionally charged and tonally
spirit even among the great pianists of her Nikolayeva herself. Those interested in warm – that we already know from Louis
era, her playing considered, uplifting and studying the evolving artistry of this great Kaufman, David Nadien, Eudice Shapiro
in her prime technically accomplished. player should invest without delay, whereas and Isaac Stern, reaching outwards to
Scribendum’s 37-disc set has its ups and the as-yet-uninitiated are in for a real treat. Heifetz, Elman and Kreisler, though
downs, most of the ‘downs’ located in a Olevsky’s virtuosity is anything but ‘in
flawed live Beethoven sonata cycle from the THE RECORDING your face’. An LP coupling of Wieniawski’s
mid-1980s. Here Nikolayeva’s frequent falls The Art of Second Concerto (with its orchestral tutti
from technical grace recall the ‘artistry-at- Tatiana Nikolayeva intact) and Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole found
a-price’ recordings of Cortot and Schnabel. Scribendum S (37 discs) the Lalo missing its moody ‘Intermezzo’
And yet listen to her Hammerklavier, with SC810 third movement. For this excellent Doremi
its unusually expansive first movement reissue, however, Jacob Harnoy has located
and confessional Adagio sostenuto, and that very movement for a first release, albeit
you realise that that price really is worth in mono (the rest of the recording is in
paying. Musically, it’s a cycle to cherish; Keilberth revisited stereo). The performance presents Olevsky
but when it comes to the earlier Diabelli In last month’s Replay I covered ‘Joseph at his very best, as does the Wieniawski
Variations there is no such price-tag, just Keilberth: The Telefunken Recordings and Bruch First Concerto – playing that
consistently inspired playing, the sort 1953-63’, concluding my appraisal with flies straight to the heart. Mendelssohn’s
that distinguishes her famous account of the claim that ‘much of what’s gathered Concerto is similarly affecting and so is
Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, where the here proves Keilberth to have been a mono Brahms Concerto with Howard
mood alternates between cleanly clipped an interesting interpreter with many Mitchell conducting. This is the fifth
exuberance and deep thoughtfulness. persuasive ideas’. Now along comes volume of a series that has already yielded
Nikolayeva ‘nails’ each piece with the a second, smaller set from Profil that an exceptional set of Mozart ‘complete
secure touch of a Gould, a Fischer, a Schiff, duplicates some of the material but adds works’ for violin and piano (Vol 1), Bach
a Feinberg or a Landowska, spinning a fair amount that’s new. Of particular solo violin works (Vol 2), Vivaldi’s Il cimento
the laudable illusion that you’re hearing note is a quite overwhelming live 1960 under Hermann Scherchen (Vol 3) and
perfection for the duration (there are also account of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony deftly played genre pieces, mostly by
recordings of selected ‘48’ Preludes and with the Berlin Philharmonic, broader Kreisler (Vol 4). If you’ve never heard
Fugues from the 1950s). than its 1956 Hamburg State Philharmonic Olevsky, start with Vol 5 and then give
The Goldberg Variations are hardly predecessor and significantly more intense. Vol 1 a try, followed by Vols 2, 4 and 3,
less distinctive and those wonderful 20th- Memorable wartime recordings by the in that order. No one who has an ear for
P H O T O G R A P H Y: P O P P E R F O T O / G E T T Y I M A G E S

century Bach outgrowths, the Preludes and Bamberg Symphony’s predecessor, the fine vintage violin-playing is likely to
Fugues by Shostakovich, are represented German Philharmonic Orchestra Prague, be disappointed.
by recordings from 1962 and 1987, the include Reger’s Böcklin Tone Poems, Wolf’s
former being the firmer in outline. There’s Italian Serenade and the First and Third Act THE RECORDING
music by her teacher at the Moscow Preludes from Hans Pfitzner’s Palestrina, Legendary Treasures:
Conservatory, Evgeny Golubev, concertos and there are live post-war performances of Julian Olevsky, Vol 5
by Mozart for one, two and three pianos, Pfitzner’s Piano Concerto (Rosl Schmid), Doremi M b DHR8054/5
Tchaikovsky’s First and Second Concertos Schumann’s Piano Concerto (a very
as well as the Concert Fantasy, and works by dramatic and assertive Annie Fischer) and

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2018 109


Classics RECONSIDERED
Rob Cowan and
Charlotte Gardner
take a trip down
memory lane by returning
to Heifetz’s legendary
1955 recording of the
Brahms Violin Concerto
with Reiner in Chicago

Brahms the version to make for. The DG disc with rather than poetry; but Reiner is careful
Violin Concerto in D Oistrakh has received high praise in some not to let it sound like the slow movement
Jascha Heifetz vn Chicago SO / Fritz Reiner quarters; I find little to enjoy in it beyond of an oboe concerto. Heifetz is not exactly
RCA Red Seal the actual physical excitement generated rapturous in his handling of this movement,
Heifetz’s magnificent reading of the Brahms by the Russian violinist’s playing – the but his playing has an ethereal quality not
Violin Concerto has been put on disc most strength and brilliance of his attack, and to be found in any of the rival versions.
successfully. When the names of the other the tonal beauty of some of the chording. It is fine-drawn, fine-spun, aristocratic.
interpreters available read like a roll of But the sense of style is ill-formed, the Heifetz carries all away in the finale,
drums, there is perhaps no call for a critic inflexions are quaint, the interpretation which is compound of flash and fire – fast,
to put his finger on one version and call seems to me desperately undistinguished, but not so fast as to make nonsense of
that the ‘best’. But next time someone and Konwitschny’s contribution is Brahms’s ma non troppo vivace, wonderfully
writes to me asking which set of the work ponderous, inert orchestral playing. alert and brilliant. He cannot help making
to buy, I shall have little hesitation in Reiner and the Chicago Symphony do not Milstein sound stolid by comparison.
answering: Heifetz. In the first movement contribute anything markedly positive to Oistrakh has a distressing trick of flipping
he is lean, athletic, classical, scrupulous in the new version, but provide thoroughly the fourth-beat accent of the third bar
his attention to the composer’s demands decent playing, here and there recorded up into air like a gipsy-fiddler.
and rhythmically very alert. That the actual rather too far below the soloist, but never The Heifetz is not one of the best
fiddling is brilliant can be taken for granted. letting one down. recordings; it is serviceable rather than
It is possible that you may want something The opening of the Adagio, that strangely brilliant. Readers should be able to find what
warmer, something with a tug of heart- scored passage which needs such careful they want either in the Heifetz, the Milstein
strings about it. Then Milstein’s is probably tonal adjustment, is a straightforward prose or the Oistrak