CHILCOTT, B.: Everyone Sang / A Little Jazz Mass / I Share Creation / Aesop's Fables (Wellensian Consort, Beeson, Finch)
Bob Chilcott is one of a line of very good songwriters—Rutter is another—who can produce a melody that has instant appeal combined with a sympathetic understanding of the text whether accompanied or a capella. When ‘classical’…composers turn their skill to jazz it can be restrained, but this one does it for me with the help of the Will Todd Trio and the multi-talented, award-winning Wellensian Consort. It’s a very enjoyable disc.
By Shirley Ratcliffe © 2013 Choir and Organ
LISZT, F.: Piano Sonata in B minor / Mephisto Waltz No. 1 / Sonetti del Petrarca / La campanella (Grynyuk)
(Orchid Classics: ORC100031)
Here’s another remarkable young Liszt player for your consideration.
Even in a catalog that abounds with many superb recent Liszt sonata recordings, Grynyuk’s ranks among the most persuasive I’ve heard. Take Arrau’s burnished tone and generous rhetoric, Argerich’s pulverizing octaves (if anything, Grynyuk’s controlled velocity generates greater intensity!), Brendel’s freedom from sentimentality in the potentially cloying episode prior to the Fughetta, and Fleisher’s pinpointed voice-leading in the Fughetta. Then synthesize these qualities into a personal, three-dimensional and stylistically sympathetic interpretation. In addition to Andrew Keener’s beautifully lifelike engineering, Grynyuk provides informative, well-written annotations that not only discuss the music intelligently but also reflect his heartfelt affinity for Liszt’s multi-faceted creative personality. A most impressive Liszt debut, not to be missed.
By Jed Distler © 2013 ClassicsToday.com
Percussion Music - REICH, S. / HARRISON, L.S. / WHITACRE, E. / TYWONIUK, D. / RAVEL, M. (Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble)
(Yarlung Records: YAR87598)
Smoke & Mirrors is a five-person percussion group based at The Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles, and this is their debut CD, also available on vinyl. The seven selections are all full-fledged works and each has its own story. They wanted in this album to show the breadth of contemporary classical music written for percussionists, as well as the ensemble’s skills in playing the works. I think it does both quite well.
By John Sunier © 2013 Audiophile Audition
Opera Arias (Tenor): Vargas, Ramon - PONCHIELLI, A. / VERDI, G. / BOITO, A. / PUCCINI, G. / CILEA, F. / GOUNOD, C.-F. / MASSENET, J. / BERLIOZ, H.
Opera: Disc of the Month
Indeed, [Vargas’] tone throughout the demanding Boccanegra piece is glorious, entirely confident and perfectly realized in a performance offering detailed vocal colouring as well as musical distinction. Verdi provides him with another congenial vehicle in Jacopo’s second-act aria from I due Foscari, which he mines for meaning and explores to a depth one might not have supposed possible.
The sound…is rich and healthy, but his singing is stylistically astute, with a keen concentration on the meaning of the text. The arias by Cilea, Gounod, Massenet and Berlioz all reveal considerable delicacy and insight; the two unusually inward Mefistojele extracts, though vividly sung, remain thoughtful and considered. Riccardo Frizza conducts the entire repertoire sympathetically, drawing focused playing from his Hungarian musicians and perfectly matching Vargas’s searching approach.
By George Hall © 2013 Opera
WAGNER, R.: Rheingold (Das) (M. Janowski)
I can’t think of a better way for Janowski and company to inaugurate their new Ring cycle than with this fabulous account of Das Rheingold. I am very happy that they started from the beginning as too often companies like to release Walküre first in order to try and entice the listening audience. But this recording needs no prep work—it is, hands down, one of the most exciting readings of this piece I have ever heard, and the surround sound opted for this piece creatively shows Wagner’s orchestration in all its splendiferous glory. Just listen to the “forging” scene when some 17 anvils are chiming away as merrily as the seven dwarfs on the way to work—such extraordinarily vivid and palpable sounds have rarely been heard in any Rheingold performance. The opening beauties of the E-flat major chord for some 300 bars in the beginning are clear as a bell and as resonant as one could wish for. In fact, all through this work Janowski goes to extremes in order to bring each bar, each seemingly unimportant strand of the score to our attention in ways we have not heard it before. Soundwise, there is no better on silver disc.
By Steven Ritter © 2013 Audiophile Audition