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Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Friday January 10th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 5 - Martin Helmchen (piano) Deutsches SO Berlin/Andrew Manze rec. 2018/19 ALPHA CLASSICS 555 [66:25] [MC] An impressive start to Martin Helmchen’s projected survey of the Beethoven piano concertos

Kristin BOLSTAD (b. 1981) Tomba sonora - Stemmeklang rec. 2018 2L 2L155SABD SACD/BD-A [49:46] [DC] Hear it to believe it.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Alexander Nevsky, Lieutenant Kij?/em> Suite - Alisa Kolosova (mezzo) Utah SO & Ch/Thierry Fischer rec. 2016 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FRESH! FR-735 SACD [60:06] [RC] This expansive, but driven and energetic, Nevsky ranks among the finest.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Organ Works Vol. 6 - Gerhard Weinberger (organ) rec. 2018 CPO 7775392 SACD [64:20 + 63:00] [SG] Weinberger's Reger pilgrimage continues to go from strength to strength.

Pancho VLADIGEROV (1899–1978) Bulgarian Suite, Symphonic Dances, Vardar Rhapsody - Rousse PO/Nayden Todorov rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573422 [74:25] [RB] Attractive, colourful pieces from a Bulgarian composer who deserves to be better known.

Karl WEIGL (1881-1949) Symphonies Nos 4 & 6 - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/J黵gen Bruns rec. 2019 CAPRICCIO C5385 [72.23] [MW] A useful and enjoyable addition to the catalogue of late Romantic symphonies, but perhaps not individual enough to be an essential purchase.

Kurt WEILL (1900-1950) Street Scene - Patricia Racette, Paulo Szot, O & Ch Teatro Real Madrid/Tim Murray rec. 2018 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC562 Blu-ray [160 mins] [PCG] A thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Now may we singen Music for Advent & Christmas - Ben Bloor (organ) Ch Westminster School/Timothy Garrard rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD595 [67:15] [WH] A delightful collection of seasonal music to enjoy all the year round.

Edith Picht-Axenfeld (piano) German Radio Broadcast Recordings rec. 1952-56 MELOCLASSIC MC1043 [79:06 + 78:44] [JW] A musician who has been largely forgotten but who deserves to be remembered.

Songs for Courtiers & Cavaliers Helen Watts (alto) Philomusica London/Thurston Dart (harpsichord, chamber organ) Desmond Dupr?(viola da gamba) Bernard Richards (cello) Granville Jones (violin) rec. 1956/57 ELOQUENCE 482 8578 [77:13 + 55:34] [GPu] Though some of the performances predictably sound ‘dated’, there are things to enjoy and admire here.

Thursday January 9th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Creatures of Prometheus - Turku PO/Leif Segerstam rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573853 [76:37] [RC] Very well played and interpreted.

Fernand de LA TOMBELLE (1854-1928) Musique de chambre, chorale et symphonique - Flemish Radio Ch, Brussels Philharmonic/Herv? Niquet rec. 2017/18 BRU ZANE BZ1038 [3 CDs: 199:45] [MC] Well-crafted and entirely agreeable works, ideal for those wanting to explore the byways of French Romantic music.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Lyric Music - Claire Booth (soprano), Christopher Glynn (piano) rec. 2018/19 AVIE AV2403 [71:59] [GF] This very attractive programme works eminently as a tightly knit unity.

Emil HARTMANN (1836-1898) Piano Quintet, String Quartets, Andante and Allegro - Elisabeth Zeuthen Schneider (violin), Nicolas Dupont (violin), Tony Nys (viola), Justus Grimm (cello), Daniel Blumenthal (piano) rec. 2018 DACAPO 8.226183 [76:17] [JW] The amalgam of obvious models and Hartmann’s own generosity of spirit proves enlivening.

Michael NYMAN (b. 1944) Yamamoto Perpetuo - Chase Spruill (violin) rec. 2018 SUPERTRAIN RECORDS STR008 [41:28] [MW] A lovely birthday tribute to Michael Nyman – a rarely heard piece in a superb performance.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde - Stuart Skelton (tenor) Gun-Brit Barkmin (soprano) West Australian SO & Ch/Asher Fisch rec. 2018 ABC CLASSICS 4818518 [3 CDs: 222.01] [PCG] One reservation stops this from being among the best versions.

A Circle in the Water Capella de Minstrers/Carles Magraner LICANUS CDM1947 [63.54] [GH] Music pervaded by melancholy but with much to charm the listener.

Samson François (piano) The Salle Pleyel Recital rec. 1965 MELOCLASSIC MC1045 [79:18] [JW] A valuable reclamation from the vaults.

The Godfather Masters of the German & Italian Baroque - La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD602 [64:08] [CRa] Another first-class collection from the people who put the rock into baroque.

Simon Trpčeski (piano) Tales from Russia rec. 2018 ONYX CLASSICS 4191 [66:40] [RCh] Grand tales brought to vivid life by a master storyteller.

Wednesday January 8th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Six Partitas - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68271/2 [2 CDs: 149:56] [SG] The greater clarity provided by the Fazioli piano gives this new version a slight edge.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano concertos 1, 3 & 4 - Ania Dorfmann, Artur Rubinstein, Myra Hess, Rudolf Serkin (piano), NBC SO/Arturo Toscanini rec. 1944-46 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC577 [67:12 + 67:20] [DD] Varying results but one real gem; very well re-mastered.

Carl CZERNY (1791-1857) Concertino; Second Grand Concerto; Rondino sur un Th鑝e favori de l’Opera ‘Le Ma鏾n’ d’Auber - Rosemary Tuck (piano), English CO/Richard Bonynge rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573998 [82:19] [JF] The Concertino is delightful, the Concerto harder going, but the Tuck/Bonynge partnership is marvellous.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) & Muzio CLEMENTI (1752-1832) Sonatas - John McCabe (piano) rec. 1981 DIVINE ART DDA21231 [57:55 + 58:30] [RMas] Splendid Clementi but less effective Scarlatti.

Lucretia Borgia Capella de Ministrers/Carles Magraner rec. 2018 LICANUS CDM1946 [66:39] [GPu] This richly enjoyable and well-planned programme makes a serious historical point and gives delight.

Come, Let Us Make Love Deathless Songs by Holst & Holbrooke - James Geer (tenor), Ronald Woodley (piano) rec. 2018 EM RECORDS EMRCD060 [75:26] [PCG] Rare Holbrooke settings, and an amiable performance of Holst’s Wolfe Songs.

Walter Gieseking (piano) At the Hollywood Bowl rec. 1955-56 MELOCLASSIC MC1041 [78:50 + 79:44] [JW] With two nuggets never before recorded, this will be a tempting release for his admirers.

Margaret Price (soprano) In Recital - James Lockhart, Geoffrey Parsons (piano), LSO/Claudio Abbado rec. 1969-87 ELOQUENCE 4825237 [2 CDs: 139:43] [PSt] A number of first CD issues which will give it great appeal to fans of the soprano.

Stories Concertos by Beamish, Jolas & Neuwirth - H錵an Hardenberger (trumpet) Roger Muraro (piano) National Youth O Scotland, Malm?SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2014/17 BIS BIS2293 SACD [61:00] [RWe] Three fine contemporary trumpet concertos, immaculately played by the virtuoso for whom they were written.

String Quartets Works by Morawski, Stojowski, Tarnowski & Wagner - Tono Qt, Four Strings Qt rec. 2014/19 ACTE PR葾LABLE AP0459 [64.59] [MW] Unfamiliar and deeply rewarding music, wonderfully performed.

Tuesday January 7th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) & Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concertos - Christian Tetzlaff (violin) Deutsches SO Berlin/Robin Ticciati rec. 2018 ONDINE ODE1334-2 [71:22] [JL] Lots of competition, even from Teztlaff himself.

Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) The Enchantress, Meditations on a theme by John Blow, Mary of Magdala - Sarah Connolly (mezzo) James Platt (bass) BBC SO & Ch/Andrew Davis rec. 2019 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5242 [76:58] [JW] Bliss adherents will need to add this to their roster of necessary discs.

CHANG Ping (b. 1972) Oriental Wash Painting - Ji Wei (guzheng), Yu Hongmei (erhu), Zhang Qiang (pipa), Yuan Feifan (zhudi) China National SO/Lin Tao rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.570627 [81:16] [MR] Some very heavy-going music here but each of the four concertos has much to offer the inquisitive listener.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Symphony No.5 - Downtown Voices, NOVUS NY/Julian Walchner rec. 2017 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0143 CD/DVD [94:17] [MW] Glass not at his finest, in an enthusiastic production insufficiently attentive to the text.

Friedrich GULDA (1930-2000) Concerto for Myself Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony No. 1 Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Concerto for Two Pianos - Mischa Cheung, Yulia Miloslavskaya (pianos) Giraud Ensemble CO/Sergey Simakov rec. 2019 SOLO MUSICA SM325 [69:58] [GP] A mixed bag of music, but the disc is totally worth having for the Poulenc Concerto.

George Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759) Messiah Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Magnificat - London PO & Ch/Sir Adrian Boult, Kalmar O/Pierre Colombo rec. 1954/55 ELOQUENCE 484 0411 [3 CDs: 200.47] [PCG] This Messiah may have been superseded by later versions in more ways than one, but it was never a mis-hit.

Mikhail KOLLONTAY (b. 1952) Viola Concerto & Piano Concerto No. 1 - Nai-Yueh Chang (viola), Alexei Kornienko (piano) RTV SO Moscow/Alexei Kornienko, Mikhail Kollontay rec. 2015/18 TYXART TXA19129 [61:55] [RHa] Underwhelming.

Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840) Sonatas for guitar & violin Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Violin Sonatas - Kim Sj鴊ren (violin) Lars Hannibal (guitar) Anne 豯and (piano) DANACORD DACOCD850 [79:49] Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707) Works for Harpsichord - Ulla Kappel (harpsichord) J醤os Sebesty閚 (organ) DANACORD DACOCD852 [73:31] New Nordic Piano Music Elisabeth Klein (piano) DANACORD DACOCD854 [74:08] [JF] More welcome reissues.

Galina USTVOLSKAYA (1919-2006) Suites & Poems - Leningrad PO/Yevgeny Mravinsky, Arvids Jansons; Leningrad Radio Youth SO/Igor Borisoglebsky; Moscow Boys’ Ch/Bogdan Petrenko rec. 1950s-2016 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 96084 [37:50 + 42:51] [RB] Early and often easily and surprisingly accessible.

Robert Casadesus (piano) The Complete French Columbia Recordings rec. 1928-39 APR 7404 [4 CDs: 228:30] [SG] A highly desirable release in top notch restorations.

Monday January 6th

Roger Sacheverell COKE (1912-1972) Cello Sonatas - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) Simon Callaghan (piano) rec. 2019 LYRITA SRCD.384 [72:14] [JW] I can’t imagine greater advocates for this music.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Cello Concerto & works by Bloch, Bridge, Fauré & Klengel - Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello) London SO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2019 DECCA 4850241 [68.55] [MW] A fine, if not yet great, rendering of Elgar’s astonishing concerto, but the real treasures are among the smaller pieces.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonata Nos 3, 8 & 9 - Freddy Kempf (piano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2390 SACD [56:06] [DC] Very fine indeed – Freddy Kempf and Prokofiev fans need not hesitate.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Ascanio, Les Barbares - Malmö SO/Jun Märkl rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574033 [73:38] [RMay] Rarely encountered scores, expertly delivered.

Peter Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Opera and Song Transcriptions for Piano - Julia Severus (piano) rec. 2018/2019 GRAND PIANO GP795 [73:33] [RCh] An interesting collection of Tchaikovsky’s songs without words.

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson (cello) The Danish Recordings 1962-1987  DANACORD DACOCD846 [79:36 + 76:50] [JF] Another major addition to the Bengtsson discography.

The Centenary Service Ch King’s College, Cambridge/Sir Stephen Cleobury, rec. 2018 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0036 SACD [81:55] [RC] A tribute to the impressive career of Sir Stephen Cleobury.

European Organ Music Colin Walsh (organ) rec. 2019 PRIORY PRCD1223 [77:55] [MR] Truly stupendous organ music, organ playing and organ sound.

Xenia L鰂fler (oboe) The Oboe in Dresden rec. 2018 ACCENT ACC24361 [78:00] [JV] Another fine disc by the incomparable oboist Xenia L鰂fler.

Violon au féminin Music by Viardot, Bonis, L Boulanger, Marchand, Chaminade and Tailleferre - Sara Chenal (violin), Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano) rec. 2014 SKARBO DSK4150A CD/DVD [72:33 + 49:17] [NB] A very impressive and successful disc.