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Highly Reviewed Recordings

April 3 - April 16, 2013

SZYMANOWSKI, K.: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4, "Symphonie Concertante" / Concert Overture (Muzyka polska, Vol. 5) (Lortie, BBC Symphony, Gardner)
(Chandos: CHSA5115)

SZYMANOWSKI, K.: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4,


…the changing face and manner of this most fascinating and accomplished of composers is richly chronicled here in characteristically impressive Chandos sound.

Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra were both probably thinking back to the last time they encountered Strauss’s Don Juan as they fire up his trusty steed to pastures new. Ecstatico passionato is the marking that leaves one in absolutely no doubt as to how this hefty Concert Overture should go and those overreaching horns are a constant reminder of the Straussian inheritance. The best pages of the piece are the Byronic wanderings—verdant and then some—and the virility of the rest throws them into high relief.

- By Edward Seckerson © 2013 Gramophone

FAURE, G.: Chamber Music (Quatuor Ebene, Le Sage)
(Alpha: ALPHA602)

FAURE, G.: Chamber Music (Quatuor Ebene, Le Sage)


Of these two glowing piano quintets, each suffused with a serene nostalgia, it is the Second, written when the composer was at the end of his life, which appeals most. It was immediately lauded.

The Second Piano Quintet begins with gentle rippling piano arpeggios. The viola presents the lovely main theme echoed by the other strings. After a passionate climax the second theme, another beauty is ushered in by the strings and made fugal before the piano softly embellishes it. The music proceeds ecstatically on its way. This is an entrancing opening movement and Éric Le Sage’s gentle poetic way with the music enchants. The quartet’s sensibilities are no less sympathetic to Fauré’s delicate idiom. The little Allegro vivo second movement is a gem. The piano scampers capriciously before the strings restrain with a gorgeous tender romantic waltz. Koechlin saw the imploring, heartfelt music that is the Andante moderato as evoking ‘arms stretched out towards a past that is never to return’. I am unashamed to admit that tears stood in my eyes through this exquisite movement. The concluding Allegro molto is more assured, it moves implacably with less sentiment affording the players the chance to assert their flair.

Fauré’s idiom never fails to move and the music of this album is no exception. This has to be a candidate for my choice of the 2013 recordings.

- By Ian Lace © MusicWeb International

ZADOR, E.: Divertimento / Elegie and Dance / Oboe Concerto / Studies (Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV, Smolij)
(Naxos: 8.572549)

ZADOR, E.: Divertimento / Elegie and Dance / Oboe Concerto / Studies (Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV, Smolij)


This second volume in Naxos’ ongoing series contains four excellent pieces…

As with the previous release in this series, the performances are excellent. The orchestra plays with enthusiasm; this is quality music that’s evidently a lot of fun to play. Mariusz Smolij conducts as though he’s been performing these pieces forever, and the engineering is top-notch. Another terrific disc from Naxos, whose evident intent to record everything in the universe really pays off here.

- By David Hurwitz © 2013

DUFOURT, H.: Lucifer d'apres Pollock / Voyage par-dela les fleuves et les monts (Luxembourg Philharmonic, Valade)
(Timpani: 1C1195)

DUFOURT, H.: Lucifer d'apres Pollock / Voyage par-dela les fleuves et les monts (Luxembourg Philharmonic, Valade)


Hugues Dufourt clearly belongs among the masters and these two recent works vastly demonstrate his mastery gained over so many long years. The music is complex and must be quite taxing for the performers. It remains strongly expressive so that it is likely to appeal to anyone “with ears to hear” especially when served by such first-class performances as it receives in this superbly engineered and produced release up to Timpani’s highest standards.

Devotees of Hugues Dufourt’s music will need no further recommendation but many others, I am sure, with open ears and a liking for superbly crafted and strongly expressive contemporary music will find much to relish here.

- By Hubert Culot © MusicWeb International

BRITTEN, B.: Cello Suites Nos. 1-3 (Higham)
(Delphian: DCD34125)

BRITTEN, B.: Cello Suites Nos. 1-3 (Higham)


…it is Higham’s expansive but tender playing that pulls this music as far away from slapdash as it is possible to be. He apprehends the complicated and multifarious elements of a set of pieces that seek to pay homage to Bach, the enormous and far-reaching Russian tradition from which their dedicatee came, and what Britten saw as a distillation of all his musical influences all at the same time. There is no doubting the plain virtuosity of these works, too, and despite his appreciation of their contextual importance, Higham still manages to revel in the glorious sound they invite the cello to make, playing around with its warmth of colours to bring out with glorious inevitability the Bach and Shostakovich hidden therein.

- By Caroline Gill © 2013 Gramophone

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