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Highly Reviewed Recordings

June 26 - July 9, 2013



BACH, J.S.: Guitar Transcriptions - Cello Suite No. 4 / Violin Partita No. 2 / Chorale Preludes (Devine)
(Naxos: 8.572740)


BACH, J.S.: Guitar Transcriptions - Cello Suite No. 4 / Violin Partita No. 2 / Chorale Preludes (Devine)

The transcriptions, which are the guitarist’s own, show exactly the kind of sensitivity to the original works as well as a guitar master’s understanding of the instrument’s capabilities and unique voicing opportunities that gives freshness and vibrancy to works we’ve heard before but haven’t given thought to beyond their organ, cello, violin, or keyboard incarnations.

There’s no question as to Devine’s command of technique and material; the fluidity of his fingering, all the while maintaining clarity of contrapuntal lines and passagework, free of the squeaks and scrapes we often hear on guitar recordings, is a joy to hear, as is the full-bodied tone of his instrument, very well captured in the acoustics of a West Sussex church…soothing, warm-blooded intimacy of a well-played guitar in consistently refined, relaxing performances.

…this is the sort of recording that both guitar aficionados and those who rarely consider such things will thoroughly enjoy, a disc that offers…pure beauty of sound and melody, expertly articulated and vividly, caringly interpreted, joining some of Bach’s most compelling music with an instrument ideally suited for its expression.

- By David Vernier © 2013 ClassicsToday.com




Chamber Music - FRANK, G.L. / HARRISON, L. / EVANGELISTA, J. / VALI, R. / KATS-CHERNIN, E. (Zia) (Del Sol String Quartet)
(Sono Luminus: DSL-92164)


Chamber Music - FRANK, G.L. / HARRISON, L. / EVANGELISTA, J. / VALI, R. / KATS-CHERNIN, E. (Zia) (Del Sol String Quartet)

This disc offers superb sound, truly state-of-the-art, comprehensive and very handy booklet notes and an exceptionally adventurous program. It’s outstanding music, none of it hard to penetrate but none of it cheesy or pandering. All of it is crafted with great skill. The string quartet’s performances grow only more astonishing as the CD goes along.

- By Brian Reinhart © 2013 MusicWeb International






HAYDN, J.: Piano Sonatas (Complete) (Derzhavina)
(Profil: PH12037)


HAYDN, J.: Piano Sonatas (Complete) (Derzhavina)

Musically, Haydn’s sonatas…require great skill and taste to be performed effectively. This is perhaps why only the most confident and capable of pianists, such as Marc-André Hamelin, Jenö Jandó, John McCabe, and Rudolf Buchbinder, attempt to record complete sets. Add to this select company the name of Ekaterina Derzhavina…who now demonstrates her thorough mastery of Haydn. Playing with clean lines and a refined touch, Derzhavina creates the effect of Classical period practice on a modern piano, and by avoiding the pedals, her sound is crisp and intimate, without the quirkiness of a fortepiano’s tone quality. …Profil’s audio quality is first-rate…and a pleasantly resonant acoustic that makes the music especially appealing.

- By Blair Sanderson © 2013 Allmusic.com






BRIAN, H.: Symphonies Nos. 22, 23, 24 / English Suite No. 1 (New Russia State Symphony, A. Walker)
(Naxos: 8.572833)


BRIAN, H.: Symphonies Nos. 22, 23, 24 / English Suite No. 1 (New Russia State Symphony, A. Walker)

The performances here are very good. The New Russian State Symphony Orchestra sounds remarkably confident in Brian’s idiosyncratic sound world. The brass play very well, and the ensemble projects what have to be some very ungrateful string parts with astonishing conviction. Much of the credit must belong to conductor Alexander Walker, who keeps the music moving smartly along, and relishes the opportunities it offers for lyrical expression as well as instrumental color. Certainly this is one of the best issues in Naxos’ ongoing Brian cycle, especially as the sonics are also very tactile and vivid. Fans of the composer will rejoice.

- By David Hurwitz © 2013 ClassicsToday.com






WOLKING, H.: Gone Playin' / The Old Gypsy / BALENTINE, J.S.: Dun eideann blogh (Cross Connection) (Walzel, Stomberg, Moravian Philharmonic, Vronsky)
(Navona: NV5903)


WOLKING, H.: Gone Playin' / The Old Gypsy / BALENTINE, J.S.: Dun eideann blogh (Cross Connection) (Walzel, Stomberg, Moravian Philharmonic, Vronsky)

Navona has done it again: two composers I have never heard of and I sure am glad I now know them!

Henry Wolking… a trombonist, composer and arranger whose stylistic roots lie clearly in the jazz world and this music provides a very attention getting introduction!

The second great discovery here is James Scott Balentine… a gifted performer on all woodwinds.

Soloists Robert Walzel and Eric Stomberg, bassoon, do a great job and this is a wonderful addition to what is a fairly sparse area of the wind repertory.

…here is another wonderful new release by Navona; well-played and filled with music that begs to be played live and heard more often. I have often been impressed by this label’s commitment to bringing forth composers of quality who should be better known. Well done!

- By Daniel Coombs © 2013 Audiophile Audition









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