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Highly Reviewed Recordings

August 7 - August 20, 2013

DOVE, J.: Passing of the Year (The) (Convivium Singers, Cromar, Ferris)
(Naxos / English Choral Music: 8.572733)

DOVE, J.: Passing of the Year (The) (Convivium Singers, Cromar, Ferris)


…this music is not only refreshingly new, and modern, but also absolutely accessible (you’ll know when you hear it). Its solid foundation in the tonal and melodic as opposed to the atonal and tuneless world certainly has a lot to do with it; but there’s much more happening here.

Felicity Turner…will astonish you with the clarity, agility, and expressiveness with which she sings this [My love is mine] difficult four-minute piece, a marvel of pure, unaffected technique and absolutely spot-on intonation. Dove is fortunate to have the advocacy of such a first-rate ensemble as the Convivium Singers and director Neil Ferris, and we are equally lucky to have the benefit of this excellent recording that captures the choir in the realistic setting of a London church. Highly recommended.

By David Vernier © 2013

BACH, J.S.: Cantatas, Vol. 53 (Suzuki) - BWV 9, 97, 177
(BIS: BIS-1991)

BACH, J.S.: Cantatas, Vol. 53 (Suzuki) - BWV 9, 97, 177


The flavour of these three special works is encapsulated in the etched dialogues and textural luminosity of a distilled musical language drifting gently towards a galant sensibility. Masaaki Suzuki is fully awake to these nuances in the exquisite Es ist das Heil (BWV9), where the opening chorus irradiates the gift of salvation in a nutty wind concertante encircling the chorale melody, continued in an effervescent duet (‘Herr, du siehst statt guter Werke’) in which Hana Blažíková and Robin Blaze delectably encircle the returning winds in a chamber quartet performance of remarkable presence and poise.

This is a wonderful celebration of all-too-rare late Bach vocal works, revealed to us by Suzuki with joy and an impeccable understanding of its unique essence.

By Jonathan Freeman-Attwood © 2013 Gramophone

Piano Recital: Weiss, Orion - BACH, J.S. / SCRIABIN, A. / MOZART, W.A. / CARTER, E.
(Yarlung Records: YAR78873)

Piano Recital: Weiss, Orion - BACH, J.S. / SCRIABIN, A. / MOZART, W.A. / CARTER, E.


…this is one of the most natural-sounding piano recordings I have heard. I am still a proponent of surround sound for piano and small ensembles, but Yarlung has achieved something quite special here, and they make sure in the booklet notes to credit the involvement of Weiss also as critical to the process. The result is a close, breathable, and analog softness with digital clarity.

But as in every other recording, the music’s the thing, and if the performances are bad it doesn’t really matter—just a great recording of a lousy rendition. Not the case here—Weiss’s performances are every bit the equal of the superlative recordings they enjoy. His Bach is crisp, elemental, and tonally opulent… The Scriabin was unexpected after the Bach—a true Jekyll and Hyde release as Weiss pours through the work with passion and an unequalled sense of impressionistic dynamism, which is perfect for this piece.

Weiss shows an amazing ability to adapt to the stylistic needs of each work without overwhelming them with his own personality.

…I recommend this wholeheartedly, and with some urgency. Riveting pianism coupled with extraordinary technology makes for a very engrossing 74 minutes.

By Steven Ritter © 2013 Audiophile Audition

BEETHOVEN, L. van: String Quartets (Complete), Vol. 2 (Belcea Quartet)
(Zig-Zag Territoires: ZZT321)

BEETHOVEN, L. van: String Quartets (Complete), Vol. 2 (Belcea Quartet)


This is the Belcea single-mindedly fathoming the emotional recesses of the composer’s psyche, every interpretation steeped in a pregnancy of feeling, a vast recreative experience that harks back to the untrammelled foresight of the Busch Quartet at its best – but reconsidered and revitalised for our time. Yes, it’s that good.

By Nalen Anthoni © 2013 Gramophone

HANDEL, G.F.: Dixit Dominus, HWV 232 / SCARLATTI, A.: Dixit Dominus IV (Queen's College Choir, Oxford, Rees)
(Avie Records: AV2274)

HANDEL, G.F.: Dixit Dominus, HWV 232 / SCARLATTI, A.: Dixit Dominus IV (Queen's College Choir, Oxford, Rees)


The Handel Dixit Dominus is one of the masterpieces of the composer’s early years...and it receives an absolutely superb performance here from the Brook Street Band and the Choir of Queen’s College, Oxford. The choir represents the British university choral sound at its best, with a pleasantly smooth texture and clear renderings of the contrapuntal movements. The historical-instrument Brook Street Band, with just a dozen members, does justice to the dimensions of Handel’s work. But the real treat here is the youthful set of soloists. You’re hearing the Baroque stars of tomorrow here, and everything about this album represents British Baroque performance at its best.

By James Manheim © 2013

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